Defending the Defender of the Public Enemy: The Croissant Affair

By Liora Israël

The Croissant affair can be considered as a turning point- albeit largely forgotten today- in the political history of 1970s Europe. Klaus Croissant was a lawyer in Stuttgart and his clientele at the time was mainly composed of political activists, including members of Andreas Baader's Red Army Fraction. Croissant was accused by the German authorities of being an accomplice to his clients' political activities, providing them with organizational resources and means of communication, therefore making it possible for them to organize a joint hunger strike. Faced with judicial prosecution and professional sanctions (including ta prohibition from defending his clients in the Stammheim trial), Croissant chose to flee his country in July 1977 and ask for political asylum in France. This particular episode as well as the subsequent political and legal mobilization in France on behalf of Croissant's case- against the extradition procedure launched by the Federal Republic of Germany and finally carried out on November, 16, 1977- is the main focus of this paper. Revealing the complex relationship of the French left with Germany as well as the stakes of the defense of defense for lawyers, this case provides a good example of the tensions inherent to the assimilation of the defense of terrorists with the defense of terrorism in a democratic state.

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