Klusmann report confirms: NDR was not aware of Russian payments to the author of the documentary (PHOTO)

Hamburg (ots) – The analysis of the Hubert Seipel case on behalf of the NDR has been completed. Former Spiegel editor-in-chief Steffen Klusmann's report confirms the freelance author's misconduct. Hubert Seipel should have disclosed financial payments from a Russian oligarch to the NDR. As regards NDR and ARD, there was no evidence that anyone involved in the production was aware of the Russian payments or even benefited financially from them.

The accusation that Seipel had the “I Putin” portrait “approved” by the Kremlin before it was broadcast was also not confirmed. To this day, Hubert Seipel maintains that his Russian sponsor had no influence on his book or film projects. However, the report concludes that the perpetrator was “proximity bribery”. Due to exclusive access to Putin, Seipel lost the necessary distance. The suspicion that the NDR ignored a “warning” about Seipel or Russian influence was also not confirmed, because there was no concrete and reliable warning.

While there were no breaches of duty by NDR employees, the report comes to the conclusion that Seipel was courted too much over the years and not questioned critically enough. NDR Director Joachim Knuth: “I would like to thank the team for the report. It makes clear that no one at NDR knew about the flow of money from Russia to Hubert Seipel because the author kept it secret and there was no other evidence of it. Furthermore, the report provides us with valuable suggestions. We will more clearly balance the tension between the proximity and distance of protagonists in large portraits, as well as between skepticism and enthusiasm – even and especially with particularly strong material. I now have three colleagues from the editorial and legal “We asked you to take these suggestions from Steffen Klusmann's report and make them more concrete for us.”

About the report

The Klusmann report traces what Seipel worked on in particular between 2009 and 2017 and under what conditions documentary and book projects about Russia emerged, among other things. Essentially it is the documentary “I, Putin” (2012) and “Putin – The Interview” (2014). The legal dimension of the Seipel case was addressed by NDR General Counsel Dr. Michael Kühn seconded to the report. For the report, Klusmann and Kühn examined numerous documents, classified Seipel's films journalistically and were in contact with around 40 people. Among them was Hubert Seipel himself, who answered the questions in writing. To classify Seipel's films into the period in which they were made, Russian expert Dr. Gesine Dornblüth conducted an analysis of the films. Dornbluth worked as a Moscow correspondent for Deutschlandradio from 2012 to 2017.

The Klusmann report and Dr. Gesine Dornblüth's report on Seipel's films is available on the NDR company website.

Questions and contact:

North German Radio
Corporate communications
Press and communication
Email: [email protected]