Germany’s outgoing intelligence chief has been forced into early retirement over a speech he gave in private denouncing “radical-left forces” in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition.
Hans-Georg Maassen had been set to take up a special advisory role in the interior ministry after left-wing political pressure saw him fired from his role as chief of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) in September.
But on Monday, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced he had retired the veteran civil servant from all offices with immediate effect, asserting Maassen had “crossed a line” with comments made during a farewell speech to intelligence chiefs in October, which was leaked to the German media.
Speaking at a closed-door meeting in Warsaw, the 55-year-old had defended his assessment that there was no real evidence to back claims that right-wing participants in protests in Chemnitz against migrant violence had engaged in “hunts” of people who looked foreign.
Chemnitz: Intelligence Chief Says ‘No Evidence’ Anti-Migrant Attack Video Is Authentic https://t.co/VcH16UNAdt
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 8, 2018
Maassen said he had been expelled from office thanks to “radical-left elements” within the Social Democratic Party (SPD), “who from the outset were against forming a coalition” with the CSU and Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), according to the text of his speech, which was published in the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Asserting that the media “reached new heights” for spreading false news in coverage alleging the existence of far-right, anti-migrant attacks in Chemnitz and a video purporting to show racists “hunting” immigrants — the source of which was an Antifa group — Maassen complained he was subjected to a witch hunt after telling the tabloid Bild that “according to the findings of all relevant security agencies, no such [incidents] took place.”
“In the following week, I made clear to the relevant parliamentary committees that the fight against right-wing extremism does not justify inventing right-wing extremist crimes,” he told colleagues.
Maassen’s dismissal from his role at the BfV was welcomed by his left-wing opponents including SPD general secretary Lars Klingbeil, who said Maassen had “just given yet another indication of his penchant for rightist conspiracy theories.”
However, during his speech in October Maassen had hinted that he could enter politics, stating: “I’m seen in Germany as a critic of idealistic, naive and leftist foreign and security policy. I can imagine a life outside public service, for example in politics or business.”