I read this (to me) strange article in the Washington Post saying a German comedian would go on trial in Germany for mocking the Turkish president.

It appears from the article that it's this whole politicized case with various German and Turkish politicians taking an interest. However, the case obviously still has to pass through regular legal avenues in Germany, with a trial, etc.

Under which exact German laws could this comedian plausibly be tried and convicted?

To clarify: I'm surprised that this is even a case. I thought the only exceptions to free speech in Germany were outright racial/sociological hate-speech and Holocaust-related topics. I am looking for an elaboration on how it's legally possible in Germany to put someone on trial for mocking a political leader (something that's often celebrated in democracies with freedom of speech.)

Was this a serious case of libel or slander?

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    The article linked to the one you linked says that there is a law on the books that makes it illegal to insult a head of state - as I don't speak German that's as far as I can go. – Dale M Sep 16 '16 at 2:51
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  • Insulting is also an exception to freedom of speech in Germany. – Jan Sep 17 '16 at 16:10
  • @Jan Would that be applicable here? And are you talking about libel/slander, or can it be applied to rough political satire? – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Sep 17 '16 at 16:23
  • @Fiksdal I’m really bad with all those legal terms. I just checked Wikipedia, and it calles libel a case of spoken defamation and slander one of written defamation. However, it also states ‘defamation must generally be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed.’ The German criminal code has has the offense of insulting. It is an insult if you say something derogative about somebody, no matter who the recipient. If I say ‘Fiksdal is an arsehole’, that is an insulting statement and can be prosecuted upon request of (cont.) – Jan Sep 17 '16 at 16:30

Section 103 of the German criminal code states:

(1) Whosoever insults a foreign head of state, or, with respect to his position, a member of a foreign government who is in Germany in his official capacity, or a head of a foreign diplomatic mission who is accredited in the Federal territory shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine, in case of a slanderous insult to imprisonment from three months to five years.

(2) If the offence was committed publicly, in a meeting or through the dissemination of written materials (section 11(3)) Section 200 shall apply. An application for publication of the conviction may also be filed by the prosecution service.

According to section 104a, the German government has to approve the prosecution (which it did)

Offences under this chapter shall only be prosecuted if the Federal Republic of Germany maintains diplomatic relations with the other state, reciprocity is guaranteed and was also guaranteed at the time of the offence, a request to prosecute by the foreign government exists, and the Federal Government authorises the prosecution.

There are a number of restrictions on speech, such as defaming the President (sect 90), insulting the state (sect. 90a), speaking against the continued existence of the Bundesrepublik, besmirching flags and state symbols of foreign states (104), disseminating writing that glorifies violence (131), etc.

  • Is this law often applied? Or is this a rare case? – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Sep 16 '16 at 4:24
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    The paper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger was fined for insulting the Shah in 1964; it was used against anti-Pinochet protesters in 1975 who called his government a "gang of murderers". Generally it is not used, and rumor is that it will be stricken from the books in 2018. – user6726 Sep 16 '16 at 4:42
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    There was a discussion a bit later about insulting the Chinese government and it was said "you can only call a current or former foreign head of state a murderer if they were rightfully convicted", and one paper observed "under that rule, nobody could call Hitler a murderer". – gnasher729 Sep 16 '16 at 12:34

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