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German FM condemns protesters' attack on journalists

May 7, 2020

For the second time in a week, journalists in Berlin were attacked by members of the public. Illegal anti-lockdown protesters turned on a camera team, in a move decried by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Police officers control the crowd at a protest in Berlin
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas Thursday condemned an attack on the camera crew of Germany's public service broadcaster ARD.

In an illegal protest in Berlin against the measures imposed to stop the spread coronavirus on Wednesday evening, two members of a television crew were injured.

"Those who attack journalists also attack our democracy," Maas wrote on Twitter.

"Free and diverse media who are able to carry out their work unimpeded are requirements for a functioning democracy," he said.

He wished the members of the camera crew a speedy recovery.

Read more: Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award: 17 laureates from 14 countries

Who was attacked?

The attack on the members of the ARD camera team took place near the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin. A sound assistant was deliberately attacked, while a cameraman was hit on the head by a microphone pole when other protesters came close to them.

A 46-year-old suspect escaped but was subsequently caught by the police and charged with assault before being released from police custody on Thursday morning.

The attack comes a week after six members of the camera team of satirical news show the "heute show" were hospitalized under similar circumstances in Berlin on May Day.

Why did the protest take place?

Under social distancing regulations, demonstrations with more than 50 participants are illegal in Berlin. Police officers at the scene attempted to persuade participants to maintain social distancing.

Many behaved aggressively, according to eyewitnesses, and there were shouts of "We are the people." The camera team were preparing a piece on the illegal protests for German TV news.

Germany's social distancing regulations have mostly been adhered to and treated positively by the population. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the reopening of many public spaces on Wednesday, to begin in the coming weeks.

ed/rt (dpa, epd)

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