Betrayal of secrets

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Betrayal is a summary term for the unauthorized procurement, public communication or the unauthorized exploitation of certain facts that are not generally accessible and not intended for third parties.

If the secret is a state secret , one speaks of treason .

In dictatorships, betrayal of secrets is often threatened with the death penalty . In times of war, the protection of confidential information, as disclosed in the Oslo Report , is of particular importance.

Facts that fall within the scope of protection of general personal rights are also constitutionally and civilly protected in Germany, for example letters or other private recordings against publication without the consent of the author who is still alive, regardless of their copyright protection. Personal data are subject to data protection laws .

criminal code

Violation of personal life and privacy

The violation of personal life and confidential area is a punishable offense in the Criminal Code ( § 201 ff. StGB). These include, for example, breaches of the secrecy of letters, mail and telecommunications or breaches of special professional confidentiality obligations such as those of doctors.

Violation of voting secrecy is also a criminal offense ( Section 107c StGB).

Offenses in office

Violations of official secrecy ( Section 353b StGB) are subject to a higher threat of punishment than the betrayal of private secrets . The term of imprisonment is up to five years, in the case of Section 203  StGB, a maximum of one year. In the military and administrative sectors , certain degrees of secrecy are differentiated from VS-ONLY FOR SERVICE USE to STRENG SECRET .

The Cicero judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court of 2007 led to an amendment to Section 353b of the Criminal Code with the law to strengthen the freedom of the press in criminal and criminal procedure law of June 25, 2012 . According to Section 353b (3a) of the Criminal Code, journalists are no longer liable to prosecution for assisting in betrayal of secrets if they publish secret material that has been leaked to them. The law also provides better protection for journalists in the event of seizures .

There is no clear dividing line between betrayal and whistleblowing . There are whistleblowers accused by the investigative authorities of betraying state secrets, such as B. Alfred Martin in the course of the Spiegel affair and spies who are considered to be scouts.

Ancillary criminal law

The betrayal of secrets under labor law also applies to persons who are not subject to any special duty of confidentiality , but who have been entrusted with a business or trade secret within the scope of their employment . Facts are, for example, the unauthorized disclosure or exploitation of internal company matters or trade secrets between business partners including what is known as secrecy ( Section 17 UWG ) or the inadmissible use of certain technical templates such as drawings, models, templates, cuts or recipes ( Section 18 UWG). As a rule, such a breach of trust also leads to the extraordinary termination of the person concerned or the business relationship.

German Democratic Republic

Convictions according to Sections 245, 246 of the German Criminal Code for betrayal of secrets were an instrument of political persecution , for example to enforce censorship or to prevent information about the situation in the GDR from being passed on to western media. A prominent example is Rudolf Bahro .


  • Lasse Schuldt: Betrayal: the involvement of journalists in the violation of official secrets. Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 2011. ISBN 978-3-428-13575-2

Web links

Wiktionary: Secret  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Claudia Niesen: Overview: What actually is treason? Der Spiegel , August 3, 2015
  2. BGH, judgment of May 25, 1954 - I ZR 211/53 = BGHZ 13, 334
  3. Consequences under criminal law if information is passed on . Scientific Services of the German Bundestag , October 24, 2016
  4. BGBl. I p. 1374
  5. Carolin Lutterbach: The criminal assessment of whistleblowing Bremen, Univ.-Diss., 2010
  6. ↑ Betrayal of secrets in the labor law professional association of legal journalists, accessed on January 15, 2018
  7. Sven Hecker: August 23, 1977: Arrest of the GDR regime critic Rudolf Bahro. Rudolf Bahro: "The text must now be made public" ( Memento of the original from January 15, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. mdr.Kultur, 23 August 2017 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /