To the Colombian Press
Mauss Office October 27th 2004
To the Colombian Press:
I, Frau Mauss, would like to respond to certain false claims that have appeared in the Colombian press in the last few hours, and would therefore ask the said Colombian press to publish the following text. I would also recommend visiting our website:
Various articles in the Colombian press have attempted to have me confused with the spokeswoman for the ONG “rebellion” from Denmark:
The entire argumentation is erroneous; neither I nor my husband have had anything to do with this organisation, with payments to the FARC, or any similar activities, as has been claimed.
In an interview from October 27th 2004 in the Colombian daily newspaper “El Tiempo”, Cristine Lundgaard, spokeswoman for the ONG makes this clear.
In the telephone interview from Denmark with EL TIEMPO, Lundgaard denies any involvement on the part of Frau Mauss.
“They say you could be Michaela Mauss?”
“Tell me more, because I don’t know who this woman is. In a few hours I will be appearing on television and you’ll be able to see who I am.” (…)
Furthermore, my husband and I have been repeatedly and wrongly criminalised by claims in the Colombian press that we were working illegally and against the Colombian law at that time. These accusations too are false.
As is known, it was intrigue against us that led to our wrongful arrest in Medellín in November 1996. After a 19-month investigation by the Fiscalía General and Procuraduría General, my husband and I were legally acquitted of all charges by the Fiscalia on May 20th 1998. The verdict made it clear that we had at no point been guilty of any violation of Colombian law and that the imprisonment had been illegal. In addition, the Fiscalía specified in its verdict that our work had been carried out in the interests of the peace process and that all operational measures implemented by us in Colombia had been carried out in consultation with the German Chancellor’s Office at that time, as detailed in the government policy statement delivered to the Fiscalía via the German Embassy in Bogotá in the spring of 1997. As far as we are aware, copies of the verdict are in the possession of almost all sections of the Colombian press.
After the decision became law in May 1998, we sued all press publishers throughout the world who had falsely reported on our role in the case. We were also able to legally force the respective newspapers to carry articles retracting these earlier assertions. We are referring here, amongst others, to an article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of October 7th 1999, page 11:
Mauss can enter country [Link]
Munich – On June 17th 1999, the Süddeutsche Zeitung carried a report from the EFE news agency which claimed that German “private” agent Werner Mauss had been barred from entering Colombia because of accusations that he had paid ransoms for the release of hostages held by guerrillas without the knowledge of the Colombian government. EFE has since corrected this error by confirming that, according to information obtained from the Colombian immigration authority DAS, Herr Mauss is not barred from entering the country. Mauss and his wife were legally acquitted of all charges against them on the 20th of May 1998. The ruling asserts that at no point were Herr or Frau Mauss guilty of any violation of Colombian law and that their imprisonment was illegal. (See attachment, copy of the original text translated here)
Other press organs, such as the Berliner Zeitung, for example, provided their incorrect articles with a link to a rectifying article. Translation of original quotation – Berliner Zeitung:
“This article is based upon the information that was available at the time of going to press:
From today’s perspective the facts present themselves differently. Read more here: “Herr and Frau Mauss were unlawfully arrested in Colombia and illegally imprisoned for 9 months.” On May 20th 1998, Herr and Frau Mauss were acquitted of all charges. It was established that they had not violated Colombian law and that their efforts had been dedicated to the cause of the Colombian peace process. At the time, the Berliner Zeitung merely reported that he had been released from prison.”