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Austrian Government Must Halt ‘State Defamation’ against Stephan Templ, Says

Lawyer
Defence counsel acting on behalf of Jewish activist Stephan Templ have denounced the
recent conduct of Austrian public officials, arguing that their politically motivated
persecution in this case constitutes state defamation.
According to international lawyer Robert Amsterdam, not only have prosecutors deliberately
misinformed the media regarding the details of the case, but diplomatic staff at several
Austrian embassies have repeatedly distorted the court record through inaccurate reporting of
the facts of the case. The fact that these misleading comments continued while the court was
considering Mr. Templ’s sentencing appeal represents a form of state defamation intended to
damage the defendant’s character and influence the legal outcome, says Amsterdam.
“Representatives of the Austrian government have improperly and incorrectly sought to
defame and tarnish the reputation of our client by willingly distorting the court record,” said
Amsterdam. “This sort of Kafkaesque persecution cannot be justified in any rule of law
state.”
Mr. Amsterdam stated that if the Austrian government’s attempts to intentionally mislead the
public continue, that the legal team would be forced to seek out international condemnation
of this misconduct by individual political figures and members of government.
Mr Templ, an Austrian citizen, has been sentenced to one year, reduced from three, in prison
for “defrauding the Austrian Republic” following a restitution claim for a share of a 19thcentury hospital in Vienna that was seized by the Nazis in 1938.
Mr Templ has been an outspoken critic of Austria’s poor post-war record of returning art and
property confiscated from Viennese Jews during World War II.
A 2000 treaty between the U.S. and Austria pledged the return of Nazi-looted property to
owners and their heirs. Mr Templ was found guilty based on his failure to name his aunt in
his application for restitution.