Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine and Austria’s Der Standard reported on the arrest of 15 Identitarians in Paris this weekend, despite prosecutors saying those arrested were far-left extremists. Both publications have issued no correction or retraction.
The left-leaning outlets published stories on Sunday afternoon claiming that members of the youth movement — known as Generation Identitaire in France — had been arrested for possessing illegal weapons on Saturday.
On Monday, Paris prosecutors corrected the false information saying that those 14 of those arrested had not been Identitarians, but far-left Antifa extremists OE24 reports.
The information concerning the arrests had been available to Der Standard and Der Spiegel on Sunday as a report from French broadcaster LCI revealed that 14 of those arrested were Antifa extremists.
The far-left activists were arrested by police at around 7pm on Saturday and were suspected of forming a group to commit acts of violence.
Just one man said to be connected to the Identitarians was arrested on weapons charges at 3pm, being caught with possession of a makeshift weapon. Though the individual is said to be a far-right extremist, co-leader of the Austrian branch of the Identitarian movement Patrick Lennart claimed the man is not part of their group.
The Identitarian demonstration was prohibited by French police who cited security concerns and potential clashes with violent far-left extremists in Paris. Despite the ban, the Identitarians held up a banner in front of the Bataclan nightclub which was the location of the 2015 terror attack that saw a team of Islamist extremists kill and torture 89 concert-goers.
The arrests of the far-left Antifa extremists are not the first time they have either plotted or committed violent acts against the Identitarians.
In 2016 masked Antifa members threw bricks from the rooftops of buildings in Vienna, Austria, during a demonstration which hit one Identitarian activist in the head, putting him into a coma.
Many in the German media and German political establishment have been accused of actively playing down far-left extremism and violence.
The Berlin government released a report a month before the Christmas Market terror attack last year, in which a dozen people were killed, claiming that far-right extremism posed the biggest threat to Berliners and that far-left extremism was not even worth mentioning.
After the massive riots at the Hamburg G20 this year, some in the German media have spoken out against far-left violence. Ulf Poschardt, editor in chief of newspaper Die Welt, wrote: “Their black costume reveals that their aesthetic is inspired by Mussolini’s black shirts. They act like fascists. They stir up fear and uncertainty.”
As of the time of this publication, neither Der Spiegel nor Der Standard has corrected or retracted their original stories.