G-8 Aftermath Deployment of Spy Jets against Protesters Angers German Opposition
A senior member of the Social Democrats claims that Germany's conservative Defense Minister lacks political judgement because of his decision to deploy reconnaissance jets on a mission to spy on G-8 protesters.
An aerial shot of the G-8 protest camp at Reddelich
The kerfuffle began in earnest after protesters alerted Hans-Christian Ströbele, a Green member of the German parliament, that they had seen a reconnaissance jets conduct a flyover of the camp in Reddelich near Heiligendamm.
The jets had been deployed in order to monitor the area for signs of a possible terrorist attack or danger to G-8 leaders meeting at Heiligendamm as Germany hosted the group's annual summit. On Tuesday, Germany's Defense Ministry confirmed that two of the jets, which are currently being used to monitor Taliban activity in Afghanistan, had been deployed during the summit to monitor the area surrounding the massive security fence that had been erected to separate G-8 leaders from protesters. One of the planes flew over the G-8 protest camp at the lowest permitted altitude of 150 meters (492 feet) on June 5, one day before the summit kicked off.
Spying on Protesters
Ströbele claimed the flyover had violated the German constitution. "It crosses all limits of acceptable technical help for the police, if reconnaissance fighter jets are used like in Afghanistan to spy on protesters," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
In a newspaper interview published on Wednesday, the leading domestic policy spokesman for the Social Democrats (SPD), the junior partner in Merkel's coalition government, accused the Defense Ministry of acting recklessly.
A German "Tornado" reconnaissance jet flew over the protester camp at the lowest legally permitted flight altitude.
The Defense Ministry, which confirmed the deployment of the Tornado jets at Ströbele's request, stated: "The flight was carried out just like other flights in the context of the technical administrative assistance that had been requested by the G-8 organizing staff of the state of Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania." The purpose of the reconnaissance flights in May and June of 2007 was "to recognize changes in the condition of the soil and manipulations near important street sections by comparing the photo material." The aerial photos, including some of Camp Reddelich, were passed on to "Kavala," the special police force charged with providing security and order during the G-8 summit.
The Green Party's spokesman for defense issues, Winfried Nachtwei, said the deployment crossed the line of technical administrative assistance and said he would seek to address the issue in Germany's parliament, the Bundestag.
Detainees at the G-8 summit in Germany.
Detained protesters were also placed in cages that Künast said evoked images of "animal husbandry." Those detained, she said, were under "constant video surveillance, they could be seen (in the cages) from all sides, there was no gender separation and the lights were on constantly."
"These are inhumane accommodations," she said.