Germany conducts nationwide raid to thwart group planning coup


More than 3 000 German law-enforcement officers conducted raids across the country Wednesday and detained 25 people suspected of links to a domestic terrorist group allegedly planning a coup d’etat.

The 25 individuals, who are all German citizens except for one Russian, plus a further 27 people, are suspected of either belonging to or supporting an organisation with far-right links which aims to violently overthrow the government, the federal prosecutor’s office said in an emailed statement.

It was the biggest-ever raid targeting right-wing extremists in Germany, according to a person familiar with the planning, who asked not to be identified.

Most of the suspects subscribed to conspiracy theories promoted by the so-called Reichsbuerger, a movement linked to far-right ideology that rejects the legitimacy of the German state, the prosecutor said. One of the people detained was taken into custody in Perugia, Italy and one in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

“They are firmly convinced that Germany is currently ruled by members of a so-called Deep State,” according to the prosecutor. They believe that the country will be liberated by the “Alliance,” a secret organisation of governments, intelligence services and armed forces of various nations, including Russia and the US.

The detained Russian citizen, named as Vitalia B., is suspected of facilitating contact between one member of the group and Russian officials, according to the prosecutor’s statement.

“However, according to the investigations carried out so far, there are no indications that the contact persons reacted positively to his request,” it added.

Uli Groetsch, a spokesman on domestic policy for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD party, said it was the largest counterterrorism operation in German history and warned that it was only “the tip of the iceberg.”

As well as the Reichsbuerger scene, Germany’s security agencies were also implicated, Groetsch said by email, adding that he was not surprised that some of the suspects appeared to have links to the far-right AfD party.

“The hurdles for removing enemies of the constitution in the civil service must be lowered,” Groetsch said. “It’s unacceptable that an accused extremist was still working as a judge.”

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that only further investigation would provide a clear picture of how far the group’s plans for overthrowing the government had progressed.

“Militant Reichsbuerger are united by their hatred of democracy, of our state and of people who stand up for our community,” Faeser said in an emailed statement.

“That is why we are taking action against such efforts with the full force of the rule of law,” she added. “We will continue this tough stance.”

© 2022 Bloomberg

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