A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the use of crossed-out swastikas and other Nazi symbols to protest far-right extremism is acceptable in Germany, as long as the emblems show a clear rejection of Adolf Hitler's party.
In its ruling, the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe threw out a heavily criticized Stuttgart state court decision to convict a 32-year-old man of violating laws that prohibit the reproduction of the banned symbols, even though he clearly did so in protest at far-right extremists.
Both the attorneys for Juergen Kamm and prosecutors had urged the appellate court to overturn the verdict, which punished Kamm with a fine of $4,745.
Kamm's company Nix Gut, a small mail-order business that sells materials over the Internet, produced stickers, buttons and T-shirts that showed swastikas clearly crossed out as a protest.
Post-World War II German laws make it illegal to display or reproduce symbols used by the Nazis, unless for scientific or educational purposes.