How Germany’s Most Wanted Criminal Hid in Plain Sight

It took authorities more than 30 years to hunt down one of Germany’s most wanted fugitives. For Michael Colborne, an investigative journalist running old photographs through a facial recognition service, it took about 30 minutes.

At the request of a German podcasting duo, he’d been asked to search for matches to the decades-old wanted photographs of Daniela Klette, a member of the leftist militant group Red Army Faction, Germany’s most infamous postwar terrorist group, originally known as the Baader-Meinhof gang.

Instead, the facial recognition software he used lighted upon a woman called Claudia Ivone. In one image, she posed with her local capoeira troupe as they waved their arms exuberantly. Another showed her in a white headdress, tossing flower petals with an Afro-Brazilian society at a local street festival.

He had stumbled on an alias Ms. Klette had used for years, as she hid in plain sight in the German capital.

This week, German police announced they had finally caught Ms. Klette, now 65, trumpeting her arrest as a “masterpiece” and a “milestone.” Some German journalists had a different interpretation of events.

“What was their success?” one journalist asked, challenging officials at a news conference this week. “Listening to a podcast?”

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