Berlin, April 5, 2023—German authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate the recent harassment of journalist David Janzen and ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On March 29, unidentified people painted a message on Janzen’s home in the north-central German city of Braunschweig accusing him of being “anti-German” and left behind a candle with his name and a white-supremacist message written on it, as well as pieces of raw meat, according to news reports and Janzen, who posted photos of the vandalism on Twitter and communicated with CPJ via email.
Janzen, editor and owner of DokuRechts, a website that covers the country’s far-right, told CPJ that he believed the vandalism was a threat in response to his coverage of the recent conviction of a far-right activist, which Janzen reported on his Twitter account, where he frequently shares his reporting and has about 10,000 followers.
Janzen told CPJ that he filed a criminal complaint with the Braunschweig police on the day of the incident and noted that police said in a statement that they were investigating the situation as vandalism, even though his complaint had characterized it as a threat. Police have increased patrols around Janzen’s house, the statement said.
“German authorities should ensure that their investigation into the vandalism of journalist David Janzen’s home takes into account the fact that he is a member of the press being intimidated over his work,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Authorities must find those responsible and hold them to account, and ensure that journalists can cover right-wing political movements without fear.”
Janzen told CPJ and wrote on his website that he has faced similar threats in the past, including an incident in 2019 where someone painted his home’s door red and put acid in his mailbox, which caused him respiratory irritation. He has received threats and insults on social media and in written messages since 2019 over his work, and was attacked by right-wing protesters at demonstrations. He wrote that he filed criminal complaints in those cases but the proceedings were either still ongoing or had been dropped without convictions.
“I’m not doing really well as the threats are starting up again now and the authorities are obviously not getting a handle on it,” he told CPJ.
Janzen regularly covers the German far-right on his website, and he also gives expert commentary on the subject to media outlets.
After the publication of this article, the press office of the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior emailed a statement to CPJ saying that police were investigating a “politically motivated crime” but provided no further information about the case.
[Editors’ note: This article has been updated in its final paragraph to include the ministry’s response to CPJ.]