Is it illegal to project a sign such as the following onto a building?

What if the person projecting the image is in Germany, and the target building is the US embassy in Berlin?

The Local reports Police investigate ‘United Stasi of America’ artist

Berlin police are investigating whether an artist who projected “United Stasi of America” onto the US embassy in the German capital earlier this week could be charged with a criminal offence.

German artist Oliver Bienkowski projected the message, along with a picture of internet tycoon and online activist Kim Dotcom onto the US embassy in Berlin on Sunday night.

He was likening reported sweeping internet surveillance by Washington and London to spying by the former East German secret police. And while the image was projected onto the building for 30 seconds on Sunday night, the action has caused quite a stir.

An investigation has been launched into whether the action constituted “slander against the organizations and representatives of a foreign state,” the Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Thursday.

Bienkowski’s lawyer Fabian Eickstädt pointed out that the projection was onto the US embassy, which is technically US territory. “For me it is not even clear whether German law would apply,” he said.

And Der Tagesspiegel said that a criminal case of slander could only be launched if the victim were to make a formal complaint. The US embassy told the paper it had no interest in a prosecution.

I commend the message and the target.

For those not familiar with the term, Stasi refers to the secret police in East Germany. Origin is from German Sta(ats)si(cherheitsdienst), literally: state security service.

Given the US cannot prosecute out of fear of publicity, let’s hope this practice spreads.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock