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Stasi scandal hits German daily

Berliner Zeitung office (file photo 25/10/05)
Berliner Zeitung is one of Berlin's biggest-selling papers

Staff at the German daily newspaper, Berliner Zeitung, have agreed to have their files investigated for links to the former East German secret police.

The decision follows the discovery that two editors at the paper informed for the Stasi when they were younger.

The paper's chief editor said the credibility and independence of the paper had been harmed.

Originally East German, Berliner Zeitung became the capital's largest subscription daily after reunification.

Shocked staff

It emerged last weekend that the editor of Berliner Zeitung's magazine, Thomas Leinkauf, had informed for the Stasi.

Mr Leinkauf admitted to having worked for them for two years when he was a student in the 1970s.

At a staff meeting another senior journalist, Ingo Preissler, announced that he had been an informant for 10 years, until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The paper's political editor, Jutta Kramm, told the BBC that staff had been shocked by the revelations.

"Some people cried...people felt paralysed. We had trusted each other and worked together for all these years," she said.

At a meeting called to discuss the crisis, staff agreed they would apply for access to their Stasi records - under the law, employers cannot access them.

The newspaper's chief editor, Joseph Depenbrock, will carry out an investigation with two historians, into the paper's history and its links with the former regime.

Berliner Zeitung was started up in 1945, and until 1989 was regarded as a mouthpiece of the East German communist regime.

After reunification in 1989 it made a successful transition to the market economy, and is now British-owned.


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