The spy who came in from the cold

The Copenhagen Post (Denmark), Nov. 7, 2002

Copenhagen Municipal Court got an unusual dose of cloak and dagger this Tuesday, when the former chief of the East German Stasi testified against the Church of Scientology in a case involving the libel of a Danish journalist.

A unusual relic of Cold War cloak and dagger took the witness stand in an unusual twist of events in Copenhagen Municipal Court this week. Onetime leader of the East German foreign intelligence service Stasi, Markus Wolf, testified under oath in a civil court case involving the Church of Scientology and a Danish journalist.

Daily newspaper Politiken profiled Wolf this week, who was known throughout the Cold War as ‘the man without a face.’ For decades, Western intelligence services didn’t even have a reliable picture of their formidable Stasi opponent. After the fall of the Cold War, Wolf remained adamantly mum on the subject of his former Stasi colleagues, a point he made abundantly clear as he took to the stand in Copenhagen this week, despite the fact that he had taken time off from a promotional book tour in Germany to testify on behalf of filmmaker Walter Heynowski, whom the Church of Scientology in Denmark had accused to working under Wolf’s spy racket, the HVA.

The filmmaker, together with Danish journalist Joergen Pedersen, filed suit against the Scientologists on grounds of libelous fraud, demanding DKK 250,000 plus punitive damages against the editor-in-chief of the Scientology-affiliated journal Frihed after a 1999 special edition of the journal that appeared in 1999.

The special edition was produced after the Church of Scientology tried, without success, to block the rebroadcast of a Pedersen-produced documentary that was openly critical of the sect. The scientologists struck back at the Danish journalist, alleging in the 1999 edition that Pedersen had enjoyed a close-crony relationship throughout the Cold War with Walter Heynowski, described by the magazine as ‘the DDR master of film propaganda and misinformation’ and a favourite of Markus Wolf. The Danish magazine also alleged that Heynowski had actually worked for the HVA.

Wolf refuted the allegation during Tuesday’s testimony, maintaining that he never knew Heynowski particularly well, so he could never have been one of the enigmatic spy chief’s favourites.

Wolf confirmed to solicitor Bertil Jacobi, representing the scientologists, that he was familiar with a few of Heynowski’s films.

“I thought they were interesting and well made, but they had nothing more to do with the Ministry for State Security than with the DDR’s ordinary, political objectives to publicly expose and undermine the imperialist states of the West,’ said Wolf, evoking the nostalgic polemics of the Cold War.

Wolf told daily newspaper Politiken that he considered it his ‘duty’ to testify in the case. The Pedersen-Heynowski libel trial is expected to carry on for four more sessions, and may see the testimony of yet more former East German spies.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday November 8, 2002.
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