The 28-year-old Ralf-Thomas K., whose surname has not been disclosed to the public, was charged with acting as the ringleader of a criminal organization and with incitement to hatred (Volksverhetzung). Three female co-workers of the defendant were handed a suspended sentence of up to three years.
Altermedia was one of the most influential German-language far-right websites. It disseminated pro-Nazi, xenophobic and racist content inciting hatred against Jews, foreigners and refugees, denying the Holocaust, promoting Nazi slogans and urging people to commit crimes against individuals on the basis of race and religion.
In order to protect the website from prosecution, Altermedia was hosted first in the USA and then in Moscow. In January 2016, however, Germany‘s Ministry of the Interior ordered the site be shut down. German prosecutors then filed charges against Altermedia’s operator and his staff.
After banning the website, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière stated that “the rule of law cannot tolerate hate crime,” adding that the State must “consistently take action against far-right hate campaigns on the internet.”