As the "bild" newspaper confirmed on monday, wulff personally tried in december to prevent the first publication of research into the financing of his private home. In the case of "bild" editor-in-chief kai diekmann, he had threatened criminal consequences for the responsible editor. Wulff also intervened unsuccessfully with springer boss mathias dopfner, the publisher confirmed. Journalists’ associations react with criticism. Wulff did not comment on the specific incident on monday.
Wulff’s telephone intervention was first reported in the "frankfurter allgemeine sonntagszeitung", then in more detail in the "suddeutsche zeitung" (SZ) on monday. Accordingly, wulff threatened on 12. December "bild" editor-in-chief diekmann announces "final break" with springer publishing house – in case this "unbelievable" story actually appears. This "crosses the rubicon". The phrase "waging war" has also been used. Wulff left protest on diekmann’s cell phone mailbox.
The call came one day before "bild" published the first report on the controversial 500,000-euro loan by the entrepreneurial couple geerkens, who are friends of wulff. The federal president is also said to have intervened with springer’s majority shareholder friede springer: as "cicero" editor-in-chief michael naumann wrote in the magazine’s online edition on monday, wulff apparently also tried to prevent "bild" reporting with this phone call – again without success. A springer spokesman said this evening when asked: "we are not aware of anything to this effect."
As "bild" (tuesday) reports, wulff had initially tried to reach diekmann directly. "When this failed, the federal president left a long message on the chief editor’s cell phone mailbox."The federal president had been "disgusted by the investigations into the house loan". Two days after the first publication, wulff had personally called diekmann to apologize for the tone and content of his remarks on his cell phone.
The federal president’s office did not take a concrete position on the matter on monday, but merely stated: "freedom of the press and broadcasting is a high priority for the federal president. He has therefore created transparency regarding the loans for his own home and for vacation stays, has made declarations and answered several hundred media inquiries. But as a matter of principle, the federal president does not provide any information about private conversations and telephone calls."
The german journalists’ association (DJV) and the german journalists’ union (dju) criticized wulff’s behavior. "Celebrities have to put up with critical reporting as part of freedom of opinion," said DJV chairman michael konken on monday. "No one had to know better than the first man in the state."It goes without saying that the federal president also has to put up with critical reporting," emphasized dju chairman ulrich janben.
The "bild" had published a report on 13. December it was reported for the first time that the then CDU minister president of lower saxony, wulff, had borrowed 500,000 euros from the geerkens in 2009. The newspaper did not report on the attempted interference by the president in december. Wulff knew at the time that the media had been investigating the financing of the family home in burgwedel near hanover for months. A legal dispute about this had gone through all instances, only the federal supreme court had approved the inspection of the land register for journalists.
As lower saxony’s prime minister, wulff had been used to a more positive approach by the springer media, so the "bild" publication had shocked him, the SZ continued. But the relationship had already cooled during the presidential election campaign, when the springer press showed sympathy for the red-green candidate joachim gauck.
Criticism continues from the opposition in berlin. SPD parliamentary group deputy hubertus heil demanded that wulff clarify the situation as quickly as possible. "Mr. Wulff’s salami tactics in dealing with this situation must finally come to an end."SPD deputy leader aydan ozoguz told the "hamburger abendblatt" newspaper: "the fact that mr. Wulff did not come clean immediately is damaging to the entire political class."
Meanwhile, the public prosecutor’s office in hanover has received eleven more criminal charges against wulff. "Our examination, however, has shown that there is no initial suspicion of a criminal offense," the authorities said on monday. There are still no investigations. The number of criminal charges against wulff now totals 20, said senior public prosecutor hans-jurgen lendeckel.