Edward W. Gillespie by i8D420cV



Edward W. Gillespie, Senior Advisor
Mitt Romney for President
PO Box 149756
Boston, MA 02114-9756

Dear Mr. Gillespie,

     As a citizen of Germany, the United States’ most important European ally, I am very interested in
the outcome of the U.S. election this fall. The American economy has not recovered as quickly as all of
us – including the export-driven German economy – would like, so there is good chance that Mitt
Romney may replace Barack Obama as U.S. President.

     No doubt you and others are currently considering the best-possible team for a potential
Republican administration. One key potential member of the cabinet will surely be Governor Robert F.
McDonnell of Virginia, who has established an excellent economic record in his state over the last two-
and-a-half years. In many ways, he is a highly effective leader.

     However, on his very first working day in office – January 19, 2010 – Governor McDonnell made a
decision which probably seemed astute at the time, but has developed into a major disruption in U.S.-
German diplomatic relations. Seven days earlier, on January 12, 2010, outgoing Governor Timothy
Kaine approved the repatriation (international prisoner transfer) of Jens Soering, a German citizen
incarcerated since 1986 for double murder. Local politicians raised an outcry, so Governor McDonnell
withdrew the state’s consent to Soering’s repatriation as soon as he entered office.

     What Governor McDonnell apparently did not realize was just how much political support Soering
had gathered at the highest levels of German and, indeed, European government. In February 2011, the
then-President of Germany, Christian Wulff, asked Governor McDonnell to send Soering home, and in
January 2012, the then-President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, made the same request. In
May 2012, the new President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, also wrote Governor
McDonnell, and in June 2012, fifty-three members of the German Bundestag (federal parliament) signed
a petition in Soering's support. Signatories included the Minister of Science, Dr. Annette Schavan
(CDU), and leaders of all opposition parties (SPD, Greens and Left). Simultaneously, the Chairman of
the Foreign Relations Committee, Ruprecht Polenz (CDU), sent Governor McDonnell a separate letter
on behalf of himself and two other members of parliament. A senior representative of the German
Foreign Minister (FDP) and the parliamentary coordinator for U.S.-German business relations have both

visited Soering in his Virginian prison. The Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger
(FDP), called for his release (after 26 years in prison) at a political rally in February 2012. Even the
office of the Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel, is involved.

     The U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Philip D. Murphy, has been inundated with parliamentary
requests for Soering's return to Germany and is fully informed about the case. To get a sense of the
scope of Soering's political support, I recommend the following part of an article, which appeared in the
German newspaper “Tagesspiegel” of July 18, 2012:

     “Signatories included, among others, the leader of the Greens Claudia Roth, the leader of the Left,
     Gregor Gysi, Minister of Science, Annette Schavan (CDU), the former State Minister Gernot Erler
     (SPD), former Minister of Health Ulla Schmidt (SPD), as well as Tom Koenigs (Greens), Chairman
     of the Human Rights Committee. They did not receive a reply. […]
     German politicians bravely continue to seek a resolution to the case. The Human Rights
     Commissioner of the federal government, Markus Loening (FDP), knows Soering personally. He
     corresponds with him and even visited him in prison – most recently in February 2011. 'According
     to our sense of justice, Soering finished paying for his crime long ago, especially since he was only
     18 at the time of the crime,' Loening told the Tagesspiegel. In a German court Soering would
     presumably have been judged under the juvenile law, he added. Whether Soering has any chance
     of obtaining a repatriation on appeal, Loening feels unable to say. 'My hopes are focused on the
     Virginia Parole Board,' he said.”

     Fortunately, this controversy can easily be resolved: grant Soering parole. He has been eligible for
parole in Virginia since 2003, has a spotless prison record, and has published nine books. The Virginia
Parole Board is appointed by the governor but is legally independent, so Governor McDonnell would not
have to carry the political responsibility for Soering’s parole. As a foreigner, Soering would be turned
over to immigration authorities, immediately deported, and forbidden from ever returning to the U.S.

     Best of all: This year, Soering's parole hearing is scheduled for September 10. Since it usually
takes several weeks to announce a decision, it would be perfectly possible and plausible to delay the
decision in his case until after November 6.

     The “Soering issue” will not go away. In Germany, there is now talk of making a movie about his
life. Hardly a week goes by without another article or TV-report; on June 13-16, 2012, after a ruling on a
court case related to Soering's efforts to return home, over one hundred newspapers published articles
sympathetic to his cause. For more information, please visit www.jenssoering.com.

     If Mitt Romney is elected President of the United States, he will eventually visit America's most
important European ally, Germany. Would it not be preferable to do so without the “Soering issue”
casting a shadow over his trip?

                     Sincerely yours,


To top