On “Day X”, police in the German city of Leipzig confiscated cell phones from 380 demonstrators. Those affected were threatened with costs for their decryption. A similar procedure is known from 2015.
On the so-called “Day X” on June 3 in Leipzig, police surrounded around 1000 demonstrators for hours. Minors were also affected by the measure. Subsequently, cell phones and storage media were confiscated from a total of 380 people. These are now to be returned, the Leipzig public prosecutor’s office told the Saxon broadcaster MDR.
The announced and registered demonstration was to protest against the verdict in the so-called Antifa East trial against Lina E. and three other activists. However, the police massively obstructed the gathering from the beginning and encircled it, allegedly because of a masking of participants.
Apparently, the kettled people were also threatened by the police. MDR reports about one demonstrator who had been asked to hand over the password of his cell phone. “If you do not give us the PIN, you will bear all the costs for decryption. There will be several hundred Euros on them,” a police officer is quoted as saying. The cell phone, which was confiscated for aggravated breach of the peace, was a “means of violence,” he said.
The Saxon Left Party MP Juliane Nagel criticizes the procedure after “Day X” and suspects that the cell phone confiscation serves to spy on left-wing structures. “Especially since the preliminary proceedings for particularly serious breach of the peace against 1040 people are a farce,” Nagel tells “nd”. She considers the extortion of PIN codes to be an illegal police practice.
The fact that defendants or suspects have to pay for such investigative actions is, however, theoretically possible under Section 465 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, but only if the proceedings also end with a conviction. This is confirmed by the Berlin lawyer Lukas Theune to the “nd”. However, he said, this is usually not practiced for the decryption of cell phones. If the procedure is stopped, the public purse carries all costs anyway. Theune considers the mass seizure of cell phones from a police encirclement to be unique in Germany. This is known only from raids such as the G20 summit, after which 26 computers and 35 cell phones ended up in the hands of the authorities.
But this is not the first time that police in Leipzig have confiscated digital devices on a large scale. After a spontaneous demonstration in memory of the asylum seeker Khaled Idris Bahray, who was murdered in Dresden, at the beginning of 2015, around 150 people who had been surrounded had to hand over their cell phones, MP3 players, memory cards and laptops as well as iPods. During a forensic evidence recovery, investigators then searched for photos on the basis of which possible criminals were to be tracked down. The charge was for serious breach of the peace and damage to property.
At least 42 people were “consulted in order to gain access,” according to the answer to a parliamentary question by Juliane Nagel, 13 of whom had voluntarily handed over PIN codes. At the time of the response, a quarter of those affected had refrained from picking up the devices again after they were released.
Published in German in „nd“.