Representatives from the German newspaper 'Die Zeit' appeared in court in Berlin on Thursday to face a lawsuit brought by Julian H., a co-producer of the Ibiza video that was published on May 17 2019 and subsequently caused the collapse of Austria's government.

Although Austrian detective Julian H. has sued several European news outlets for reporting personal details about him, this is his first suit against a German newspaper.

He came under public scrutiny after being connected to the video which was filmed on the Spanish island in summer 2017.

"In my opinion this is peculiar. If he would claim for himself that this has been produced for the rescue of democracy or for reasons of freedom of press, than it would play well for him," said the attorney for the German newspaper 'Die Zeit' Joerg Nabert about the detective, who denies details that have been reported about him.

The one hour long session ended with Nabert saying that freedom of speech has received an "extreme restriction" today. Nabert continued to say that not all is lost and he does not "give up the fight yet."

The incriminating video shows Heinz-Christian Strache, who was both Austrian Freedom Party (FPO) leader and Vice Chancellor at the time, and his fellow FPO member Johann Gudenus meeting with the supposed niece of a Russian oligarch and encouraging her to buy Austria's largest newspaper, offering access to government projects in exchange for favourable election coverage and campaign funds.

Following the publication of the video Strache resigned from both his posts and Austria's then chancellor Sebastian Kurz fired the FPO Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, after he refused to resign, resulting in the FPO exiting the governing coalition.

Kurz went on to lose a no-confidence vote called by the opposition and Austria's president Alexander van der Bellen then replaced Kurz with the head of the country's constitutional court Brigitte Bierlein, who is heading up an interim-government until elections scheduled to take place in September.

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Associated Press 11 May 2020 11:44 CEST

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