Pictures of Terrorists Do Not Have to Be Anonymized

07.06.2011/ 08.06.2011

On Tuesday, the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe decided that the pictures of a convicted Islamic terrorist can appear in the German news media – without being anonymized. This decision was not in favor of the claimant Mazen H. (30), who was convicted by the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart in 2008 for planning an attack on the then-Prime Minister of Iraq Ijad Allawi during his visit to Berlin in 2004. Mazen H. was arrested before the attack could be carried out; he was then sentenced to eight years in prison for attempted murder and his membership in an Islamic terror organization. Following his conviction in 2008, the Regional Court ordered that pictures of H. had to be anonymized before they were published in order to protect his personal rights. The news agency Reuters, however, disseminated non-anonymized pictures of H., which then also appeared in the German tabloid BILD. H. filed a lawsuit against this publication, which he initially won. Bild, however, appealed and now won the case with the decision by the Federal Court of Justice. The judges found that there was an exceptional need to inform the public about contemporary events; therefore, Mazen H.’s personal rights were secondary.