German court rules authorities can spy on major political party
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party can be officially classified as a “suspected case of right-wing extremism” and a threat to democracy, a court ruled on Tuesday, paving the way for authorities to spy on the group’s politicians.
An administration court in Cologne dismissed a legal challenge brought by the AfD back in March 2021 over plans by Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) to put the party under surveillance.
The BfV’s decision came after the court found that there were “sufficient indications of anti-constitutional goals within the AfD,” the court announced, explaining its ruling. Classifying AfD under the terms now permitted by the court gives authorities the green light to monitor the party’s communications and use undercover informants to gather information on the political group and its activities.
Seeking to distance itself from extremist elements that had aligned themselves with the AfD, the party recently broke up its hard-line ‘Wing’ faction, led by Bjoern Hoecke. However, the court in Cologne claimed that, despite this step, key figures from that now disbanded grouping still maintained “significant influence” in the party.
The court similarly condemned the AfD’s youth wing, which the judges claimed, along with the former ‘Wing’ faction, believe that “German people should be kept ethnically intact and ‘outsiders’ should be excluded as far as possible.” The court’s judgement stated that “this goes against the Basic Law,” citing the German constitution.
In the 2021 general election, the AfD secured just over 10% of the vote, a decrease from its previous performance. In January, Jorg Meuthen stepped down as the party’s co-leader after accusing the AfD of drifting to the right and displaying “totalitarian” leanings.