German publishing house Hoffmann und Kamppi suspends the sale of Hubert Seibel’s books about Russia and Vladimir Putin. This is a reaction to media reports that the journalist receives high salaries from Russia.
The publishing house said that it knew nothing about the matter yet. Hoffman & Camp has published two books by Sibel dedicated to Vladimir Putin in recent years.
Interview with Putin
German public broadcaster NDR, part of the national radio and television network ARD, where Sibel worked, said it would investigate possible legal action against the author.
In 2012, Sibel produced a high-profile, award-winning documentary about Vladimir Putin for NDR, and in 2014 he interviewed the Russian president. In the same year, he also managed to interview Edward Snowden, who fled the United States to Russia after disclosing secret US intelligence files.
A deal worth more than half a million euros
The German weekly magazine “Der Spiegel” and ZDF TV revealed that Hubert Seibel signed a “sponsorship agreement” with an entity close to Russia years ago worth 600,000 Polish zlotys. euro. This amount was supposed to be used to support the author in two books about Russia and Putin.
Journalists discovered the deal while analyzing data from a Cypriot financial services company. Sibel allegedly received the money from a company registered in the Caribbean, owned by Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov.
Conflict of interest
When asked by SPIEGEL and ZDF, Siebel admitted that he was “supported” by Mordashov. However, he stressed that the oligarch, which was subject to sanctions after the Russian attack on Ukraine, had no influence on the content of his books. The agreement also stipulates that the author has no obligations to the sponsor regarding the form of publication.
At the same time, the NDR stated that Seipel should have disclosed the fact of concluding an agreement with Mordashov, because in the opinion of the NDR, signing such an agreement creates a serious conflict of interest and raises doubts about the author’s journalistic independence.
NDR director Joachim Knuth said: “There is a suspicion that we and our viewers have been deliberately deceived. We are investigating this and analyzing the legal steps.”
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