German MP Drops Wikipedia Lawsuit

Lutz Heilmann says he's satisfied now that offensive content about him has been removed.

K.C. Jones, Contributor

November 18, 2008

2 Min Read

A German member of parliament who filed a lawsuit against Wikipedia said that he didn't intend to shut down his country's version of the site.

Lutz Heilmann sued the site, saying that portions of the entry about him were slanderous. A judge issued a preliminary injunction and shut down the site for two days before Heilmann withdrew charges against Wikipedia. He said he may sue the authors of the article instead. The site has since been restored with some changes to the article on Heilmann.

The German Wikipedia article questioned whether Heilmann had obtained a college degree, indicated that he had been involved in online pornography, accused the MP of sending threatening text, and stated that he was about to lose his diplomatic immunity. Internet users viewed the German-language article on Heilmann nearly 659,000 times, and most of the visits came after Heilmann filed his lawsuit.

The left-wing member of the Bundestag, who once worked for the Stasi in East Germany, refuted the claim about his education and the accusation that he was involved in a pornography ring. He posted a statement on his own Web site Tuesday, saying he wanted to block portions of the article that contained false accusations and injured him, his personal rights, and his honor. He said he will not pursue further action against Wikipedia now that the damaging content has been removed. He said he did not want the court to shut down the site, censor it, or limit Wikipedia's rights.

"That was not my intention," he said.

He indicated he wanted to work with the Wikimedia Foundation to resolve the problem.

Deutsche Welle reported that the controversy had unleashed a "flood of donations" to Wikimedia, with more than 40,000 euros coming in during the two days it was shut down. That's about 20 times the amount donated during the previous days, according to the broadcaster.

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