Berlin, May 20, 2021 — German authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate recent attacks on journalists covering protests, hold those responsible to account, and ensure that reporters can cover events of public interest safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On May 15, members of a pro-Palestine protest in Berlin attacked at least three news crews and shouted insults at German and Israeli journalists, according to news reports and one of those reporters, who spoke with CPJ.
“Journalists in Germany must be able to cover protests without fear that they will be harassed and attacked by demonstrators,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Authorities must do their utmost to ensure that reporters can cover such events safely, and should hold to account those who attack them or seek to disrupt or block their work.”
Demonstrators threw bottles, paving stones, and firecrackers at a crew for the German commercial TV station RTL, consisting of reporter Kathrin Gräbener, a sound assistant, a camera operator, and two security guards, whose names were not disclosed, according to a report by the outlet and Gräbener, who communicated with CPJ via email, saying that the demonstrators also shouted that they were “fake news” and called on them to “tell the truth.”
Protesters also threw a firecracker at Antonia Yamin, a correspondent for the Israeli state-owned broadcaster Kan News while she was speaking on-camera in Hebrew, according to that RTL report and a tweet by Yamin.
Also during that protest, a demonstrator punched a camera operator working with the daily newspaper Bild, according to a report by the paper by reporter Peter Wilke, who wrote that the demonstrators also shouted antisemitic insults. The article did not identify the camera operator by name.
Gräbener told CPJ that she and her crew members were not injured in the attacks. CPJ messaged Yamin and Wilke at their social media accounts to inquire about any injuries they sustained, but did not immediately receive any replies.
Gräbener said that she filed a criminal complaint over the harassment, adding, “The hostility and the insults are frightening, because it gives me the impression that those who make these accusations hardly follow any news media.”
“I will be not intimidated and will not let anyone drive me off to continue reporting on demonstrations in the street,” she added.
Martin Dams, a Berlin police spokesperson, told CPJ via email that authorities were investigating the attacks on journalists at the protest.
He declined to specify any protective measures that police were deploying for journalists, saying that police do not comment on such issues but added, “You can be assured, however, that the Berlin Police will do everything possible to ensure the protection of media representatives and free reporting.”