German police are seen arresting journalist Michael Trammer as he covered environmental protesters in Munich on September 10, 2021. (Photo: Iván Furlan Cano)

German journalist Michael Trammer detained, charged with trespassing while covering environmental protesters

Berlin, September 22, 2021 — German authorities should immediately drop all charges against photojournalist Michael Trammer and ensure that members of the press can cover public events without fear of detention, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On September 10 at about 1:45 p.m., police in Munich detained Trammer, a freelance photojournalist on assignment for the daily newspaper taz, while he was reporting on environmentalists protesting against the International Motor Show, according to a report by taz and the journalist, who communicated with CPJ via email and tweeted about the incident.

Trammer told CPJ that he clearly identified himself as a journalist to police, but authorities nevertheless charged him with criminal trespassing, an offense punishable with a maximum prison sentence of one year, according to those sources and the German criminal code. Trammer told CPJ that he has not been informed of a court date for his case.

“German police never should have detained photojournalist Michael Trammer, let alone filed criminal charges against him for simply doing his job and covering newsworthy events,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Authorities should drop the charges against Trammer and issue a public explanation for why he was detained despite clearly identifying himself as a member of the press.”

On September 10 and 11, thousands protested at the International Motor Show in Munich against the country’s “car-dominated traffic policy,” and activists repeatedly clashed with police, according to news reports.

Trammer told CPJ and tweeted that he covered a group of protesters as they entered a building near the auto fair, where they gathered to prepare for further demonstrations, and that he was arrested when police stormed that building to arrest the demonstrators.

Police detained him even though he was holding his press card and accreditation for the fair, according to Trammer’s email to CPJ and a video of his arrest he posted on Instagram.

Trammer said that police held him with the activists, searched him, and took the group to the central police station, where they held him until about 4:45 p.m., when he was charged and released.

Upon his release, police also issued Trammer two orders: one to refrain from entering the car show’s facilities or staying nearby, and another stating that he may be detained again if authorities suspected he may violate the law, according to Trammer and the taz report. However, after taz representatives contacted the police about those restrictions, authorities dropped both orders, Trammer told CPJ.

CPJ emailed the Munich police for comment, but did not immediately receive any response.