German Prosecutors,
In Clamp Down On Free Speech,
Indict CompuServe Chief
Source: German Alert 97-04-21 (now disappeared)

MUNICH — Prosecutors in Munich indicted the head of CompuServe for Germany and Central Europe, charging that he and the online service "knowingly" spread pornography. The indictment is one of the strongest attacks on freedom of speech in post-war German history.

A statement from CompuServe in the U.S. said the charge "is entirely groundless."

The indictment alleges that CompuServe intentionally and with negligence violated German laws on protecting children. It claimed the online service could have blocked Internet newsgroups but failed to do so.

CompuServe, which has been under criminal investigation since German police stormed the firm's Munich offices in December 1995, said it could not block newsgroups for German users of the service without eliminating access to them for users in other countries where freedom of speech is in effect.

Officials of CompuServe warned previously that the firm may have to move its European headquarters out of Germany if the government continued its criminal probe.

— 16 April 1997

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