German Police raided the homes of 60 people suspected of writing ‘hate’ speech on social media in Germany. Coordinated by the Federal Criminal Police (BKA), the operation saw officers from 25 departments search across 14 states.
The police raids took place as part of the government’s fight against “verbal radicalisation”, which it said has increased in the wake of Europe’s migrant crisis. BKA President Holger Münch said attacks on migrant shelters were the result of “radicalisation” on social media.
Forty of the defendants whose homes were raided were wanted in connection with a secret Facebook group focused on Kempten, in Bavaria. The search took place across 13 provinces. Bild reported that xenophobic and Nazi material was distributed on the group’s Facebook page between July and November last year.
Attorney Bernhard Menzel, from the prosecutor’s office in Kempten, said that during the raids, police seized storage devices such as laptops and mobile phones.
In Berlin, 11 men had their houses searched as part of the anti-‘hate’ speech operation. Berlin police reported that suspects had, independently from one another, written negative messages about migrants and politicians on social networks.
Dresden’s interior ministry announced that they searched the properties of eight suspects in Saxony. The five men and three women arrested belong to a right wing Facebook group called “Greater Germany.” The Saxony residents are accused of sedition and making unlawful internet posts, Bild reported.
Mr. Münch explained that “today’s action makes clear that police authorities of the federal and state governments act firmly against hate and incitement on the Internet.”
“The number of cases of right wing, politically motivated hate crimes on the Internet has increased significantly in the wake of the European refugee situation,” the BKA president said, adding that they must not be allowed to “poison the social climate.”
In Berlin, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière declared that “violence, even verbal violence, in any form and in any context” was “unacceptable.”
Justice Minister Heiko Maas said there is no place for hate speech on the internet or on the streets, and warned there will be “severe penalties” for those who break the law.
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