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Charges dropped for German reporters of Ibiza affair

Rebecca Staudenmaier
December 6, 2019

The ex-leader of Austria's far-right party had pressed charges against <i>Süddeutsche Zeitung</i> journalists, saying they violated his privacy. The "Ibiza affair" video eventually brought down the Austrian government.

Video von FPÖ-Chef Strache auf Ibiza
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Spiegel/Süddeutsche Zeitung

All charges brought against journalists at the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper have now been dropped, prosecutors in Munich announced on Friday.

Former Austrian vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache pressed charges against three journalists and two managing editors for publishing the now-notorious Ibiza video earlier this year.

The video showed Strache talking with a woman posing as the niece of wealthy Russian oligarch, and offering government contracts in exchange for editorial support for his far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ).

Strache had accused the journalists of "making highly personal images accessible" to the public, news agency DPA reported.

In a statement, prosecutors said that "the overwhelming interest in reporting on the abuses discussed [in the video] were of considerable importance."

They added that this public interest outweighed any disadvantages for Strache.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung and news magazine Der Spiegel jointly broke the story in May 2019, publishing the video of Strache's secretly filmed conversation on the Spanish island of Ibiza.

The fallout from the scandal eventually led to Strache resigning from his post — and led to the collapse of Austria's government, sparking snap elections.

Austrian authorities recently arrested three people suspected of involvement in making the video.

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