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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 14:59 GMT
Stasi material on Kohl released
Stasi files
The Stasi kept hundreds of files on West German politicians
Edited parts of the Stasi secret police files on former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl have been released for the first time after a long legal battle.

About 1,000 pages of the East German files were made available to some researchers and journalists.

They were ordered not to publish the files and details relating to Mr Kohl's private life were blacked out.

Mr Kohl was spied on by the communist Stasi in the 1980s. He fought for four years to keep the documents secret.

But last year a German court ruled that some of the files' contents could be made public.

No major revelations

Researchers have been keen to see Mr Kohl's secret police records, which they hope could shed light on a financing scandal that tainted him and his party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Helmut Kohl (2000 picture)
Mr Kohl fought the release of the files for four years
The German news agency DPA said the excerpts released on Thursday contained nothing sensational.

Marianne Birthler, who heads the agency overseeing the Stasi archives, said there was "significantly more material locked away than what is being released today".

A former East German dissident, she had brought the case to release the files, arguing that a new law allowed the publication of such records, whether or not the individuals concerned were Stasi victims.

Mr Kohl, who led Germany through unification until he was defeated by Gerhard Schroeder in 1998, had claimed that the files on him violated his right to privacy and were bound to be full of false information.

To access the files, media must get consent when they try to obtain information about Mr Kohl.

Under the federal court ruling, researchers must guarantee that the information does not fall into "unauthorised hands" or be released into the public domain, says the AFP news agency reports.

Court lifts ban on Kohl files
17 Sep 03 |  Europe
Timeline: Germany
23 May 04 |  Country profiles

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