Court order: Ministry must secure short messages on subsidy scandal

Court order: Ministry must secure short messages on subsidy scandal
Court order: Ministry must secure short messages on subsidy scandal

Minister Stark-Watzinger is under pressure in the so-called subsidy scandal. A court has now ordered her not to delete any text messages on the subject.

According to a court ruling, Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) and her ministry must secure all text messages related to the funding scandal. This so-called suspension order was issued by the Cologne Administrative Court, as a court spokesman confirmed. “Spiegel” had previously reported.

The “Ask the State” initiative had filed an urgent application to this effect. The court spokesman said that the interim ruling was an interim ruling and that the matter had not yet been examined. It is still unclear when the urgent application will be decided.

Prohibition of deletion by the court

The decision states that until a final decision is made, the ministry is “instructed to ensure that messages sent and received via the messenger service “Wire (Federal)” by the Federal Minister, her personal staff, the State Secretaries and the other management staff” from the beginning of May to the end of June in relation to the subsidy scandal “are not deleted”. In particular, the self-deletion function of the messenger service should be deactivated.

A ministry spokesman declined to comment on the ongoing proceedings at the administrative court. An appeal against the decision can be lodged with the Higher Administrative Court in Münster.

The background is the handling of criticism from university lecturers

The background to the affair is the ministry’s handling of an open letter from university professors on the Middle East conflict. The lecturers had criticized the clearing of a camp of pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the Free University of Berlin. This in turn triggered criticism from Stark-Watzinger. In her opinion, the letter “ignores the terror of Hamas.”

Later, emails were made public which showed that someone at a high level in the ministry had asked for an investigation into the extent to which statements in the protest letter from the Berlin university professors were relevant under criminal law and whether the ministry could cut funding as a consequence. The action sparked fierce protests. Stark-Watzinger then parted ways with State Secretary Sabine Döring, who is said to have commissioned the investigation.

Source: Stern

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