Considerations on the 2017 press conference

After years of journalists’ questions, unexpected answers nobody wants to hear

The third anniversary and Easter have passed. We have taken a longer break than usual, which has allowed us to mourn in peace – for the first time together as a family. For the first time ever it was possible to give room to our grief. In recent weeks, we have had many conversations with people known to us as well as with those unknown, which have done us good and given us strength. We also talked a lot about the past, the current situation and the so far unexplained. So in this way we have found our way back to our website, especially because a few points have emerged which we would like to discuss in more detail. In the meantime, we have updated the expert report, which is now available in its entirety on this website.

With our contribution today, we would like offer our perceptions of the press conference last year, at which parts of the expert report were presented. From today’s point of view, it would not really have mattered if others topics – perhaps even more relevant – had been presented. We do not know what expectations the journalists who came to the conference had. At any rate, our intention was not to present an alternative crash scenario or to “whitewash” Andreas – given the amount of “dirt” thrown at him as well as the Lubitz family, it would have been impossible. After the many lies, falsehoods and false interpretations of the last two years we wanted to provide all media representatives with the same information at the same time, to correct these untruths and, further, to prevent future distortions.

In the two years prior to the press conference, reporters, journalists, editors (however they called themselves) were constantly pursuing us for “information.” But what lay behind their promises? Immediately after sending the invitations to the media, when nothing had yet been published about the forthcoming press conference, we received an email from BILD reporter Mike Passmann in which he asked us to answer two questions before 5:15 pm that same day: namely, why we had chosen the date of the second anniversary and whether we had considered that this particular date might insult the sensibilities of the families of the 149 victims. To repeat, Passmann’s email was sent at 3:00 pm of the same day, requesting a reply by 5:15 pm. Even if one had read the message immediately after receiving it, there would be little time to formulate a thoughtful answer, particularly if we could not answer with a simple “Yes”, “No”, or “Maybe”. This limited timeframe makes clear that Passmann did not really expect an answer and could later write that the Lubitz family “refused” to reply. Moreover, because the impractical deadline passed, as it was expected to do, it was obvious that Passmann could then turn to the relatives and their lawyers, some of whom are always willing to talk. Prior to the press conference, when not a single word had yet been spoken, Passmann approached the victims’ lawyer, Giemulla, and asked him to speculate about the probable content of the upcoming conference. Giemulla cheerfully suggested that the expert, van Beveren, would speak of toxic fume events, his favorite topic and hobbyhorse, which would be irrelevant to the issue.

In the end, the date was secondary, but ideally suited to evoke a negative mood on an emotional level, with high media sales guaranteed. It may be that the press once again attempted to encourage conflict between victims’ relatives and the Lubitz family. We might ask why journalists didn’t simply boycott the press conference in protest against its insensitivity? Non-attendance at the conference would have been their ethical stance.

At the live press conference itself the mood was hostile, an impression felt not only by those present but by innumerable television viewers as well. Some suggested that the clicks of the cameras were something akin to a firing squad. Preregistration was required because there were many more interested people than the venue could accommodate. Not everything went smoothly and not everything was presented as professionally as had been planned, but not because of time limitations.
For Ms Herrnkind, a STERN reporter, the most important question was how much the expert (van Beveren) was paid. This clearly demonstrated her lack of interest in the critical content of the press conference, but rather how illdisposed to us she was, and is. Before the press conference, Ms Herrnkind had written to our lawyer requesting an exclusive interview with STERN.

She questioned why we had previously corresponded with “Welt am Sonntag”, a newspaper that would reach only conservative readers and suggested that we should grant STERN an interview as the victims’ relatives had done. Further, she wondered whether the Lubitzes were aware that the STERN is among the largest magazines in Europe. With them we would be in very good hands.

Hypocrisy! The question should not really be how  much we paid the expert, but rather how much she, or whoever, paid for a very personal computer file created in 2009 which Andreas had created as a booklet about experiencing and overcoming his depressive episode and which he dedicated to those close to him. This was something never intended for public dissemination. Furthermore, Ms Herrnkind selectively lifted lines and phrases in order to draw a connection from 2009 to 2015 and published this invention in the STERN – quite brazen and tasteless.

And, last but not least, a TV report from RTL that was broadcast on “EXTRA” on 27.03.2017 should not go unmentioned. On the program, aviation expert Ralf Benkö claimed that he had closely analysed Mr van Beveren’s 800-page expert report but could not arrive at any new theory as to why the plane had crashed. Firstly, the complete report covers far more than 800 pages (see expert report with the appendices). And secondly, at the time of the broadcast the report’s contents were known only to Mr van Beveren himself and to us. One sequence showed Benkö leafing not through the van Beveren report, but rather – clearly recognizable – through the German version of the BEA final report.

Long live investigative journalism and truth!

It is unfortunate that the echo of the Lubitz family’s passage to the public has died away so quickly. Some clue or piece of information from the press conference should have been worth a closer look or inquiry in appropriate places – by the authorities or the government. It is understandable that they were unable to comment immediately on the day of the press conference, but they instead immediately offered denial of the findings. Maybe the reactions and non-reactions surrounding the press conference should be set aside for a while.

And we can hope that at a later date unbiased people will reconsider…

L. U.

further bogus press reports:

Welt am Sonntag – how Springer’s news outlets deliberately misrepresent facts