Affair – Agent Couple Mauss Hit Back
This article is based upon the information that was available at the time of going to press.
On the 20th of May 1998, in Colombia, Herr and Frau Mauss were acquitted of all charges against them.
After an 18-month investigation by the Fiscal General de la Nación and the Procurador General – public prosecutor for, amongst other things, state and authority criminality, it was ruled that the couple had, at no time during their operations or stays in the country since 1984, violated any Colombian national laws.
It was further ruled that the imprisonment and nine-month pre-trial detention that began in November of 1996 had been illegal. It was established that this had been based upon the intrigues of the company Control Risks with the cooperation of the Columbian police authority – Gaula Medellin – which had manipulated prisoners, forcing them into making false statements against the couple. This falsified evidence was later rectified and declared illegal. Extract from acquittal judgement. [Link]
Between 1995 and their arrest in 1996, the couple were involved in a peace mission which was carried out in consultation with the German Chancellor’s Office.
The Federal Government confirmed this in a governmental declaration at the beginning of 1997 which was presented, along with a verbal note (Nota No.:022/97) via the German ambassador in Bogotá, to the Colombian government, the Fiscal General de la Nación and the General State Prosecutor of Antioquia, on the 23rd of January 1997.
See also letter, dated May 22 2001, to a Western government, written by the then Minister of State in the Chancellor’s Office and coordinator of the German intelligence services, Herr Bernd Schmidbauer, MdB [Link]
as well as:
the letter of appreciation, dated November 22 2005, sent to Werner Mauss by former Colombian President Ernesto Samper, who was in office at the time in question. [Link]
Article from Focus, No. 46/97 by Josef Hufelschulte
Agent couple hits back at German press with accusations of press crime
The second watch on the wrist is not for showing off. Each time she glances at it – the watch has been set six hours forward to show German time – Ida Mauss’s thoughts are with her three sons back home. The boys, six, ten and 14 years old are desperately waiting for their parents to return from Colombia.
The happy family reunion is now within sight after hard months of separation. Proceedings against the scandal-beset private agent Werner Mauss, 57, and his wife Ida, who were arrested on the 16th of November 1996, accused of providing support for the guerrilla ELN group and complicity in kidnapping, are about to be dismissed.
A bitter after-taste will remain, however. Herr and Frau Frau Mauss feel aggrieved, see themselves as victims of intrigue – above all, they blame “Der Spiegel” and its ex-reporter Hans Leyendecker, now chief political editor of the “Süddeutscher Zeitung”.
In an open letter, Ida Mauss reads the riot act to her ‘good’ friend “Dear Hans”, seeing him as the one most responsible for the long jail term.
The couple, given conditional release from prison at the end of July are still suffering because of their experiences. Ida Mauss will never be able to forget how, for the best part of nine months, she was locked away to vegetate in a cramped 1.60 x 1.80 metre cell in the company of 130 murderers and poisoners.
The painful memories of endless loneliness and of torture through systematic sleep deprivation refuse to go away. The 37-year-old effervescent Italian is now burning with anger. In her open letter to former “Spiegel” reporter Hans Leyendecker she deplores the “press crime” committed by the Hamburger magazine. She claims that a number of articles, and above all, a “Spiegel TV” film caused irritation to the Colombian authorities and considerably lengthened the time they spent in prison.
The story so far: In November of 1995, Leyendecker, along with several other colleagues, accompanied Herr and Frau Mauss on their mission to free two Italian engineers who were being held hostage by the ELN.
“Everything was filmed”, writes Ida Mauss. “Instead of being comforted, the freed hostages found themselves dragged in front of the cameras.”
Before filming began contractual conditions were set: The couple’s participation in the release was to be kept strictly secret, photographs and film material of them not to be shown. Failure to comply with these conditions would result in a breach of contract penalty of 50,000 Deutschmarks for each individual case of violation. Nevertheless, following the agent couple’s arrest in Medellin in November 1996 “Spiegel” and “Spiegel TV” both reported on the secret Mauss mission in the jungle.
The consequences: Photos and films showing, among other things, Werner and Ida Mauss heartily greeting the ELN fighters were viewed by the public prosecutor’s office as clear evidence of their camaraderie with the guerrillas. Suddenly the Germans were facing the prospect of 60 years in prison.
Ida Mauss holds her ‘friend’ Leyendecker personally responsible, for breaking his word and selling out her husband and herself for a “handful of dollars”. By making things public she claims, an attempt was being made to destroy her husband and herself “physically, psychologically and morally”.
In her letter she says: “You, dear Hans, have done the deal of your life, selling the film from the guerrilla camp worldwide and editing it in such a way as to present us, the leading players, as criminals.”
Her memories of how “dear Hans” behaved in Colombia are very strong. When asked to contribute something of German culture, “you”, says the letter, “sang the communist Internationale to an audience of more than 100 guerrillas. I can still remember what you said – think left, live right – very well.”
Last Friday, Hans Leyendecker made a short statement in which he rejected the Mauss accusations: “It was not my decision, nor did it lie within my authority to have these images shown.”
Spiegel editor Stefan Aust stands by his story: “After Mauss had been arrested and his role in the hostage business became known it would have been irresponsible from a journalistic point of view not to have published what we knew.”
Mauss lawyer Egbert Wenzel, disgusted by this abandoning of informant protection would like the affair settled in his way. He wants to sue “Spiegel” for damages. Millions are at stake.
The bitterness aroused by the flood of publication initiated by the Hamburg-based magazine runs so deep that the couple have hardly had any interest in the investigations of the past few weeks. The negotiated release of the kidnapped German manager’s wife Brigitte Schoene (FOCUS 48, 50/1996) is considered a trifle by local observers. “The file will soon be closed”, says a senior Bogotá judicial officer, that subject has been exhausted”.
Herr and Frau Mauss now talk of a trap. They believe that the activation of the government’s anti-terror brigade against the troublesome competition from Germany was the work of Control Risks, a company based in London and specialised in lucrative hostage release.
Along with Britons and German journalists, the agents also consider political hardliners in Bogotá as belonging to the alliance of conspirators against them. The latter, they believe wanted to torpedo the Mauss inspired peace process between the Colombian government and the ELN underground army.
In this they were successful. The intensively prepared signing of a ceasefire agreement under the patronage of the Federal Chancellery in Bonn, planned for December of 1996, fell through.
Werner Mauss, apparently unbroken by the severity of his solitary confinement in the Itagui high security prison, has not given up his dream. As soon as investigations are ended, announced his lawyers in advance, the man for the special mission and the resilient Ida want, once again, to devote themselves to the cause of reconciliation between government and rebels.
A trouble-shooter is urgently needed. Colombia has seen enough of the terrible bloodletting. “The people are hungry for peace“, says Carlos Villamil Chaux, who last year came on a secret government mission to Bonn. The trusted confidant of president Ernesto Samper and former consul in Berlin is sure: “The guerrillas still have the desire for peace.” And as appropriate and trusted mediators they expressly wish to have the German government.”
A wish that at present falls on deaf ears in Bonn, where the fear of media scorn over another Colombian adventure is not something that is relished. “We have other priorities in foreign policy”, said a senior spokesperson from the Federal Foreign Office.
The guerrilla central command is nevertheless counting on old contacts in Bonn. Minister of State and intelligence services coordinator Bernd Schmidbauer holds the key to peace in his hands according to a recent statement by the ELN.