Baden-Württemberg: Judgment from the data protection officer: Strobl acted illegally

The public prosecutor's office is investigating, the opposition wants his resignation, and a committee of inquiry is imminent.

Baden-Württemberg: Judgment from the data protection officer: Strobl acted illegally

The public prosecutor's office is investigating, the opposition wants his resignation, and a committee of inquiry is imminent. Now the top data protection officer in the country is also opening proceedings against Thomas Strobl. The minister has his back to the wall.

Stuttgart (dpa/lsw) - The data protection officer Stefan Brink has now officially announced: In his view, Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU) clearly violated the law by forwarding a letter from the lawyer of a senior police officer to a journalist. The result is a "data protection supervisory law test procedure", which the SPD has asked him to do. In a nine-page letter available to the German Press Agency, Brink explains why he believes Strobl violated data protection. That is why the top data protection officer in the southwest has now opened a regulatory procedure on the matter.

SPD parliamentary group leader Andreas Stoch had asked Brink to officially examine the affair of passing on a letter from a lawyer under data protection aspects. The result now confirms the opposition's accusation that Strobl also violated data protection by passing on the letter. This puts the interior minister under pressure on another flank. According to Brink, passing on the letter cannot be justified either under specialist laws or under general data protection regulations. "The transmission therefore violates the relevant data protection law and is therefore to be regarded as illegal."

Brink cites many paragraphs and sheds light on the transmission of the letter from various legal perspectives. In the case, personal data of a state official were transmitted to a third party. The data subject did not give their consent, nor was there a specific legal regulation that would have legitimized the data transfer.

The State Commissioner for Data Protection has now opened a procedure as the supervisory authority. However, with regard to the ongoing investigations by the public prosecutor's office, this will only be continued "after the formal conclusion of the investigation by the public prosecutor's office and taking into account the investigation results then available," said Brink.

Strobl is under massive pressure because of the affair. The public prosecutor's office is investigating the 62-year-old minister and deputy prime minister of the green-black coalition, among other things, on suspicion of prohibited disclosure of court hearings. The reporter is suspected of having quoted official documents from the ongoing proceedings against the police officer. Strobl, in turn, is said to have instigated him to do so. The SPD and FDP are demanding the minister's dismissal. The FDP parliamentary group also filed criminal charges against Strobl, among other things because of the betrayal of official secrets.

At the heart of the affair are actually investigations into a leading police officer on suspicion of sexual harassment. The man is said to have harassed a chief inspector in a video chat. Sources from the interior committee said that the transcript of the video chat, which is available to the deputies, clearly shows that the policewoman's husband offered to help her in her career if she were to be of sexual service to him. What makes the matter even more explosive: Before his suspension from the state police, the official was responsible for the internal value campaign against sexualized violence.

Strobl admits to leaking the lawyer's letter to the press in December. The minister argues that he did not reveal any official secrets. He wanted to ensure "maximum transparency". In the letter, the suspended official's lawyer had offered the ministry a face-to-face interview, which was better for both sides than a legal process. Strobl argues this was a "poisoned offer" for a deal. In order to prevent a possible publication by the other side, he gave the letter to a journalist.

Brink, on the other hand, is of the opinion that the specific offer of talks should by no means give impartial third parties the impression that things are being "cheated" or "swept under the carpet". Rather, the lawyer's letter and the interview offer expressed in it correspond to "the usual practice" in the context of a legal dispute, "after which the legal representative tries to find an amicable solution to the conflict with the employer".

In a letter from Monday, which is available to the dpa, Stoch calls on Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) to comment on Brink's test results - "and to state what conclusions you will draw from this assessment". Kretschmann is likely to be confronted with the subject at the weekly government press conference on Tuesday.

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