The German domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), will be investigating members of the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), the official opposition in the German parliament.
The BfV said that it would be looking at the entire party as a “test case” meaning that it would not deploy undercover operatives or user other intelligence gathering techniques on the party as a whole, Die Welt reports.
The intelligence agency did, however, list the youth wing of the party, the Junge Alternativ (JA), and Thuringian party leader Björn Höcke as “suspicious” — which would allow them to use undercover operatives against them both and monitor their communication.
The head of the agency in Thuringia, Stephan Kramer, announced the new measures on Tuesday.
The announcement comes after the replacement of former BfV head Hans-Georg Maassen, who was slammed by establishment media and politicians for denying that “migrant hunts” had taken place in the city of Chemnitz last year and ultimately fired for calling the Social Democrats (SPD) “radical left.”
German Establishment Call for Domestic Intelligence to Spy on Populists Following Chemnitz Protests https://t.co/mb3z9Gup63
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 4, 2018
Alexander Gauland, co-chairman of the AfD in the Bundestag, reacted strongly to the announcement, saying: “We consider the arguments to be unsustainable and believe that a certain social climate, some political pressure, has led to this.” Gauland also noted he and the party would fight the move in court.
Gauland’s fellow co-chair Alice Weidel also commented, saying “the citizens should be scared” and adding that the intelligence agency’s powers were being abused “to combat an unpleasant political competitor.”
Opponents of the AfD, such as SPD Bundestag vice-president Thomas Oppermann, welcomed the move, stating: “It is overdue that the [Bfv] closely monitors the interaction of AfD and neo-Nazis.”
The BfV was seriously looking into the AfD last year and, according to new head Thomas Haldenwang, the agency had at least 1,070 pages’ worth of material currently under investigation relating to the party and its members.
Observation of the AfD comes after the intelligence agency confirmed in 2016 that they had been monitoring the hipster-right anti-mass migration Identitarian youth movement.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 13, 2016