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Sebastian Edathy Untersuchungsausschuss 18.12.2014 Berlin
Image: Getty Images/A. Berry

"It was legal"

December 18, 2014

Former German lawmaker Sebastian Edathy has faced the media over an inquiry into child pornography allegations. Questions remain over whether he was tipped off by other politicians while under investigation.

https://p.dw.com/p/1E6rW

Former German lawmaker Sebastian Edathy confronted the media on Thursday to speak about child pornography charges against him as well as accusations made regarding other politicians who allegedly tipped him off to a investigation he was a suspect in.

The 45-year-old is accused of downloading pornography to a parliamentary laptop and of possessing a photo book and CD with images of naked minors.

Edathy, a member of the Social Democratic Party - the junior partner in Germany's governing "grand coalition," quit parliament in February, citing health reasons. He gave up his elected position days before it emerged police had searched his home and offices. An inquiry from by the lower house of German parliament, the Bundestag, is currently examining whether Edathy was tipped off to the investigation.

The case led to the resignation of then-Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, over suspicions he alerted the leadership of the SPD that Edathy was secretly under investigation.

On Thursday, Edathy presented the Bundestag inquiry with an affidavit containing his version of events, and a 12-page transcript of text message traffic with SPD politicians.

Prior to the meeting, Edathy told the media that he ordered pictures and movies online, but added that did not contain child pornography.

"I'm sure I made mistakes, but it was legal," he said.

Edathy has previously said that none of the images seized by authorities could be classified as illegal under German law.

He said on Thursday that discussions were underway to close the case against him in exchange for a "manageable" fine. Such an agreement is often used in Germany and carries no conviction.

The trial against Edathy is due to begin on February 23, in the northern German town of Verden. He faces two years in prison if found guilty.

Edathy rose to prominence in Germany when he headed a parliamentary committee looking into why police and intelligence services failed to stop a neo-Nazi murder spree that lasted 10 years.

In November, Germany amended its laws prohibiting the sale of pornographic images of children, a legal gray area that until then saw no rigorous definition in place for offenders, and relatively lax minimum prison sentences.

Lawmakers also strengthened the rules on pictures of naked children and minors.

jr/sms (AP, dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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