Germany's Social Democratic Party (SDP) has defended its stand on its Indian-origin former MP's alleged involvement in child pornography, dismissing claims that he was informed about plans to open an investigation against him. Sebastian Edathy, 44, is suspected of involvement in child pornography.
Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), has indicated that the party's leadership was considering its long-time spokesman on home affairs and managing board member for a government post during the coalition negotiations with chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) last October. "We were in the midst of taking crucial decisions on personnel when former interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich informed him about intelligence information that Mr Edathy's name emerged during investigations into a globally-operating child pornography ring," Gabriel said. "The information given by Friedrich was very helpful forthe SPD and therefore his decision on Friday to resign from his post as the minister for food and agriculture in the new cabinet is especially bitter for the SPD," he said in a TV interview.
Friedrich tendered his resignation following allegationsthat he had leaked confidential intelligence information onEdathy and about plans to open an investigation against him,enabling him to remove or destroy crucial evidences. The SPD leadership insisted that it kept this information secret and it was not passed on to Edathy.
Wolfgang Bosbach, home affairs spokesman of the CDU, saidEdathy could have become a parliamentary secretary or even the justice minister in the new government. But, it would have been catastrophic if the probe against him on suspicion of possessing or attempting to acquire child pornography were launched only after he assumed a new government office. Therefore, Friedrich did the right thing by informing Gabriel about the intelligence information concerning the SPD politician's alleged attempts to acquire child pornography and plans to open an investigation against him, Bosbach said.
Edathy, son of a migrant from Kerala, unexpectedly laid down his parliamentary seat last Friday after more than 15 years on health grounds.
SPD leadership said earlier this week that he has been on a medical leave since the beginning of January and it has noinformation about his whereabouts.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor's office in Hannover, which opened an investigation against Edathy on Monday, claimed that he had ordered videos and photos of naked children quite extensively and downloaded them at different e-mail addresses as well as using the computers in the IT department of the Bundestag to evade detection. He made the payments for his orders using credit cards issued for hidden accounts.
During the period between 2005 and 2010, Edathy placed nine orders with a Canadian firm for 31 deliveries of videos and photo sets, Joerg Froehlich, head of the prosecutor's office said on Friday. His orders were mainly for videos and photos of naked boys between nine and 14 years in different poses. Possession of such videos and photos are not illegal in this country and therefore they are insufficient to raise formal charges against Edathy, Froehlich said. Therefore, prosecutors raided Edathy's houses and offices on Monday and on Wednesday, hoping to find material relevant for a criminal prosecution against him, but they found only two computers and parts of some damaged computer hard drives, he said.
Following Edathy's resignation, the prosecutor's office secured all relevant data in the IT department of the Bundestag and sealed his office in the lower house, Froehlich said.