Ex-SDP politician testifies on his use of child pornography

Sebastien Edathy says purchase over internet was wrong, but legal

Sebastian Edathy, former interior spokesman for the German Social Democrat party and former member of the Bundestag, arrives to speak to the media over allegations he harboured child pornography on his computer on December 18th, 2014, in Berlin. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Sebastian Edathy, former interior spokesman for the German Social Democrat party and former member of the Bundestag, arrives to speak to the media over allegations he harboured child pornography on his computer on December 18th, 2014, in Berlin. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

 

A former Social Democratic politician has described his purchase of child pornography over the internet as “wrong, but legal”.

Sebastian Edathy, former interior spokesman for the SPD, returned to Berlin yesterday for the first time since February to answer questions about the revelations that ended his political career. He appeared before a Bundestag inquiry into the affair to answer questions over whether a tip-off from party colleagues gave him time to destroy evidence ahead of a police raid on his home and office.

“It was certainly wrong to order these films, I admit that ... but it was legal,” he said. “Morally, it was out of order.”

Last year Canadian police cracked a child porn ring and seized a customer list of a company that produced and sold over the internet films of naked children. On a list of German customers passed to police was Mr Edathy.

He heard of the police investigation in November 2013. When the case became public in February, the 45-year-old said: “Edathy the politician no longer existed”.

His was not the only head to roll: a former interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, resigned after he admitted telling SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel about the investigation. Mr Friedrich said he only did so, during coalition talks a year ago, to prevent Mr Gabriel considering Mr Edathy for a cabinet post.

During his testimony in Berlin, Mr Edathy claimed senior SPD members, in particular Bundestag floor leader Thomas Oppermann, breached legal privilege by discussing the case with colleagues and staff. This claim has increased pressure on Mr Oppermann to resign from Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, which is still stung that the Edathy affair claimed their minister, Mr Friedrich.

Head of police

Another key figure in the Bundestag investigation, continuing into the new year, is Jörg Ziercke, former head of German federal police, who has denied tipping off Mr Edathy via an intermediary.

In February Mr Edathy will stand trial on seven cases of downloading images and video files featuring child pornography to his work laptop, which he later claimed to have lost. He is also suspected of having been in possession of a picture book and a CD containing reportedly illicit material with minors.