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Controversy in German Journalism: Handelsblatt Magazine Under Fire for Alleged Misconduct

In the realm of German journalism, recent events have once again cast doubt on the integrity of the profession. After the Claas Relotius scandal at “Der Spiegel,” another prominent German publication, Handelsblatt magazine, now faces its own share of controversy.
The Accusations: Sven Afhüppe, the editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt, and editors Lars-Marten Nagel and Jakob Blume have been accused of illicitly accessing restricted police databases. These allegations have already resulted in the resignation of Udo Münch, the police chief in Hessen city.
The Controversial Episode: The turmoil began when a representative from Karatbars, Harald Seitz, submitted a statement in July 2020, raising suspicions of divulging confidential official information. This led to the initiation of a criminal case under Article 353b, 26 of the German Criminal Code. A pivotal piece of evidence in this case is an audio recording lasting slightly over an hour. In this recording, individuals identified as Lars-Marten Nagel and Jakob Blume can be heard requesting specific information through the Closed Police Information System (POLIS). Official statements suggest that potential witnesses have provided testimony against the Handelsblatt journalists.
The Intrigue: What adds an element of intrigue to this story is the previous association between Handelsblatt and Karatbars. Initially, the magazine promoted Karatbars, presumably due to advertising agreements. However, they later published a series of negative articles about the company, citing a “former Karatbars programmer” as their source. Harald Seitz, the spokesperson for Karatbars, asserted that these articles resulted in substantial losses for investors. He claimed that the so-called “ex-programmer” was dismissed from Karatbars for issues related to work ethics and professionalism. Mr. Seitz also contended that the German Interior Ministry officially cleared him of any wrongdoing, a fact not included in Handelsblatt’s materials. According to Mr. Seitz, this omission suggests that the magazine’s true motive was to undermine the KaratGold Coin (KBC) and harm investors, which ultimately occurred.
A Disturbing Pattern: If the allegations against Handelsblatt are substantiated, it would mark another significant media scandal in Germany. Disseminating unverified and potentially unverifiable accusations, especially those causing harm, constitutes a serious breach of journalistic ethics and the law. Such actions unquestionably cross multiple ethical boundaries in the world of journalism.
The Current Situation: Despite the ongoing criminal case and the damning evidence against them, Jakob Blume and Lars-Marten Nagel appear undeterred. They continue to engage in journalistic activities, churning out article after article in their quest for fresh stories.
This unfolding scandal not only damages Handelsblatt’s reputation but also raises critical concerns about the state of journalism in Germany, underscoring the necessity for transparency, accountability, and ethical reporting.

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