OT Germany: Stasi used radioactive material to trace opponents' movements

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BERLIN (March 17, 2000 6:34 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Former East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, used radioactive material for years to track its opponents' activities, the office in charge of the Stasi's files announced Friday.

Many here suspect that political opponents of the former communist regime fell victim to the technique, dying of rare cancers after exposure to radiation.

Among other methods, the Stasi marked opponents with contaminated pins, the Stasi office said. The Stasi secretly slipped the pins into opponents' clothing.

In some cases, Stasi operatives used radioactive material in fluids to mark papers and money. They could then trace whether the items were stolen or used in contacts with the regime's opponents. In addition, the Stasi attached contaminated magnets to vehicles to trace where people traveled, the office said.

There was no indication, however, that radioactivity was used against political prisoners, the office said.

The most prominent suspected victim of the technique was East German dissident and writer Rudolf Bahro, who died of leukemia. The office said his manuscripts were apparently soaked with a radioactive liquid to trace how widely they were distributed.

Joachim Gauck, who heads the office, said prosecutors are investigating further to determine if criminal charges should be filed against former Stasi officers involved in the program.

-- viewer (justp@ssing.by), March 18, 2000

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