‘RT’ announces plans to sue German tabloid over allegations of ‘spying on Navalny’
Russia’s state-controlled television network RT intends to take legal action against the German tabloid Bild over allegations that journalists working for RT Deutsch (RT German) were instructed to spy on Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny while he was recovering from chemical nerve agent poisoning in Germany.
Bild published an article with the headline “I had to spy on Navalny!” on Tuesday, March 9. It tells the story of reporter Daniel Lange, who claims to have broken his contract with RT after he was asked to “spy” on Navalny when he was in intensive care at Berlin’s Charité Hospital.
Lange says that he was added to a secret chat with the leadership of RT German and asked to carry out certain “special orders.” He and his colleagues were allegedly instructed to get inside the Charité Hospital disguised as patients, and then find out which ward Navalny was in and how close one could get to him.
According to Lange, he later figured out that this task wasn’t aimed at getting exclusive photos of the opposition politician to get ahead of RT’s competitors, but rather an attempt to find weak points in the clinic’s security. At this point, he deliberately drew attention to himself while at the hospital, resulting in the police recording his personal information and place of work.
Afterwards, RT’s managers allegedly changed Lange’s assignment, instructing him and his colleagues to keep an eye on Navalny’s chief of staff Leonid Volkov and head of investigations Maria Pevchikh.
In announcing its lawsuit against Bild, RT hinted that the allegations could be part of a campaign against the Russian television network in Germany. According to RT, it’s German affiliate recently received notice about the closure of its accounts with Commerzbank. RT underscored that 15 percent of the bank’s shares are owned by the German state.
On March 8, Daniel Lange published a book titled “Inside RT Deutsch: Putin’s Media Army in Germany,” in which he recalls his two years of experience working for the network. Among other things, the book includes the story about RT’s alleged attempt to spy on Navalny.