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US officer scrutinized for bashing Merkel on Facebook

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Disparaging Facebook comments about German Chancellor Angela Merkel made by a US officer are currently under investigation by the US Army Europe. reports that in a December post on the platform, Col. Ciro Stefano, operations chief for the Bundeswehr’s 10th Panzer Division, wrote, "Thanks Mrs. Merkel for ruining Germany."

Stefano was criticizing the chancellor’s policies. His post was then picked up by Germany’s Main Post newspaper, prompting Stefano to delete the post and make his Facebook profile private.

Stefano was also active and commenting on anti-refugee pages throughout December and January, according to the paper.

In a statement, the US Army Europe said it was investigating whether this is a punishable offense and, if it proves to be, they’re deciding what actions to take against Stefano.

The statement read, "We were made aware of the news article and our leadership began gathering facts surrounding the article’s assertions to determine a course of action … The German-American partnership remains strong and steadfast," according to Stars and Stripes.

Currently Stefano is still in his position in the division, which falls under the Army’s Personnel Exchange Program, with his high rank and station as an American officer within a German unit complicating matters.

Service members are allowed to "express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces," according to a 2008 order from the Pentagon. Since the comments were posted to Stefano’s personal page it is unlikely that Stefano will face punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Stars and Stripes quoted German Army Capt. Florian Kling, member of the Darmstaedter Signal activist group, as saying,"If you are a colonel or even have a higher rank, you need to make clear that if you say

2017.04.08 / 09:00
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