November 19, 2008 / 8:47 PM / 10 years ago

Lawmaker apologizes for blocking Wikipedia

BERLIN (Reuters) - A member of parliament who got a court order blocking online encyclopedia Wikipedia in Germany for two days because of entries linking him to communist-era security police apologized on Tuesday for overreacting.

Lutz Heilmann, a little-known MP of the Left party, made headlines across Germany and stirred complaints about censorship for winning the court injunction temporarily blocking the popular reference data base.

Heilmann told Tageszeitung newspaper he took the step because the entry about him in Wikipedia included false information, suggesting he worked for former communist East Germany’s Stasi. He said he realized he had made a mistake.

“I didn’t think it through and didn’t anticipate the consequences,” he told the newspaper after he withdrew his court injunction on Monday.

He added that he was fed up with seeing what he called false statements about his past included in his entry. Wikipedia is edited by anonymous contributors.

Heilmann did not return calls seeking comment.

Catrin Schoneville, spokeswoman for Wikimedia that owns Wikipedia.de, did not want to comment on the accuracy of the entries but said some had been changed since the injunction.

Wikipedia.de’s entry on Heilmann still describes the 42-year-old as “the first former full-time Stasi worker to enter the Bundestag (parliament).”

Schoneville said that, ironically, heavy media coverage of the blocking of the website caused donations to soar.

“We always seek donations from users every year in the run-up to Christmas,” she said. “This incident has raised public interest. We’ve received over five times the usual amounts.”

Editing by Michael Roddy

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