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1 Feb, 2024 13:58

German spies tracking former boss – media

Hans-Georg Maassen has denied accusations of right-wing extremism, suggesting he is being persecuted for political reasons
German spies tracking former boss – media

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), has placed its former president Hans-Georg Maassen under surveillance, suspecting him of ties to the country’s far right, local media has reported.

According to the website t-online and the national public broadcaster ARD, the agency now maintains an extensive dossier on its former director, who stood at the helm between 2012 and 2018. The BfV has made him an “observation case,” as he is suspected of right-wing extremism.

Maassen was forced to step down from the BfV after a string of scandals, including his questioning of reports of far-right violence against foreigners. Several media outlets have also claimed that he handed over sensitive information to the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Maassen is now the leader of the Values Union, a right-wing party that recently splintered from the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU). Initially created in 2017, the Union originally portrayed itself as a conservative association within the CDU but the two had a major ideological falling out that eventually led to a break-up.

Some critics have also accused the Values Union of being too close to the AfD, which has consistently criticized Berlin’s immigration policies.

The BfV’s decision to place Maassen under surveillance was confirmed by the politician himself, who published the relevant notification from the agency. Among the reasons, it cited the fact that members of the Reichsburger movement – which denies the existence of the modern German state and believes that the nation’s citizens are still living in the German Reich based on the 1871 Constitution – shared his video on social media.

In December last year, German authorities charged 27 people, suspected of membership of the Reichsburger movement, of planning to overthrow the constitutional order in the country. 

The letter also said that Maassen had described authorities’ actions against Reichsburger members as “disproportionate,” adding that some right-wing figures have described Maassen as a “staunch Republican.”

In an interview with Tichys Einblick magazine on Wednesday, the former BfV president called the allegations of right-wing extremism “without substance and unjustified,” suggesting that his former office was abusing its powers to hunt down political opponents.

”This is an attack on the free democratic basic order by the Federal Minister of the Interior, Ms. [Nancy] Faeser,” he added.