With the 2012 London Olympics just two months away, one athlete has already stirred some controversy before the games have even begun.
Ariane Friedrich, a German high jumper expected to contend for a medal, recently posted the name, email address and city of a Facebook stalker who had been sending her explicit messages and pictures, touching off an intense national debate on privacy. Thousands of people have posted comments on her Facebook page, both praising her move against sexual harassment and criticizing her for vigilante justice.
I've been offended in the past, sexually harassed and I've had a stalker before, wrote Friedrich on Saturday in a recent Facebook post that included the name and email address of the man who she says sent her explicit material. It's time to act, it's time to defend myself. And that's what I'm doing.
Germany has very strict privacy laws that protect an individual's right to determine whether their name and address can be published, which can blow Friedrich's situation up even more. According to the New York Times, newspapers in Germany, for example, don't publish the names of offenders, in an effort to prevent them from being marked after their release from prison.
As for the Internet, the end may not justify the mean.
Something like this is new, said Helmut K. Rüster of Weisser Ring, an organization that promotes victims' rights, to the Times. We have not had an incident in this form before in Germany.
Friedrich also filed a legal complaint against the accused man. Her coach, Günter Eisinger, also said to the Times that Friedrich was not going to make any further comments on her posting, both he and she being cautioned by prosecutors and police not to make any statements.
Friedrich is currently training for the Olympics.
Here are seven quick facts to know about the gold medal hopeful:
- Friedrich was born on Jan. 10, 1984 in in Nordhausen, Thüringen, Germany
- The 28-year-old is the German record holder in the outdoor high jump with a best of 2.06m
- She won gold at the 2003 European Junior Championships
- She won gold at both the 2009 and 2010 European Indoor Championships
- She won bronze at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin
- A ruptured Achilles tendon forced her to miss the entire 2011 season
- She's associated with the German sports club LG Eintracht Frankfurt
- She's a police officer by training back in Germany