German spy chief sacked after leaked speech 

German spy chief sacked after leaked speech 

Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has sacked former domestic intelligence commander Hans-Georg Maaßen after “unacceptable remarks” in a farewell speech to the international intelligence community. 

Seehofer, who has previously backed the controversial spy chief, said “cooperation based on mutual trust” was no longer possible.

The 55-year-old Maaßen spoke about “radical left-wing elements” in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) who seized upon his remarks about protests in the eastern city of Chemnitz in August to provoke government divisions. 

In his speech, Maaßen expanded on his earlier claim that media had “made up” reports of far-right thugs hunting foreigners during rioting in Chemnitz.

“These ‘hunts’ never happened, according to the findings of the police, state prosecutor, press, the state premier and my colleagues,” Maaßen told his European intelligence counterparts in Warsaw on October 18. “They were made up.”

He continued: “I’ve experienced a lot of German media manipulation and Russian disinformation. But that politicians and media make up ‘hunts,’ or at least spread this false information without checking it, was for me a new quality of false reporting in Germany.”

The SPD and Seehofer’s Bavarian Christian Social Union are both reluctant junior partners to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in the coalition government.  

The supposedly clandestine spy chief also criticised policies on refugees and security as “naive and leftist”. His speech was leaked from the BfV, the intelligence agency, intranet.

Maaßen’s original claim that the videos were fake resulted in his dismissal in a spat that nearly brought down Merkel’s coalition in September. 

In an interview with Bild, Maaßen directly contradicted Merkel’s spokesman, who had used the word hetzjagd or “hunt”, to describe attacks on migrants in Chemnitz.

Maaßen was accused of passing sensitive information about Islamic extremism to the extremist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which led to his departure from the BfV.

The populist party has already offered Maaßen a job.

“He would fit well into a democratic, constitutional party like the AfD,” said the anti-Islamic party’s chair Jörg Meuthen. He called Maaßen “a conscientious, excellent and thorough public official”. 

As a compromise with Seehofer, Maaßen was due to become a de-facto deputy interior minister but, amid mounting anger, the spy chief was instead to be made a consultant to the Bavarian conservative.

Opposition Left party boss Kaja Kipping said Seehofer’s action was too late.

“The firing is overdue, but has come too late to repair the damage that the [coalition government] has done to itself with the Maaßen affair,” she said. 



Riots during a festival in Chemnitz threatened to bring down Germany’s coalition government. Picture credit: YouTube 

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