German spies target AfD ahead of elections tomorrow

German spies target AfD ahead of elections  tomorrow

Germany’s spy agency will step up monitoring for political extremism of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The agency has previously avoiding full surveillance of the party, including phone and email taps, the use of undercover informants and acquiring personal data on its parliamentarians.

The domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, boss Thomas Haldenwang unveiled the policy shift towards the five-year-old party.

“The BfV has the first actual evidence of a policy by the AfD directed against the free, democratic order,” Haldenwang told the media. The evidence includes anti-Muslim and xenophobic statements by AfD members that are incompatible with the constitutional right to human dignity but the evidence was not yet compelling enough to justify a formal observation using “intelligence service methods”, he added.

Germany’s largest opposition party opposes multiculturalism, Islam and the open-door immigration of veteran Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom the party calls a “traitor”.

The AfD entered the national lower chamber, the Bundestag, for the first time at the most recent general election in September 2017 with almost 13 per cent of the vote.

The AfD has since increased support to about 15 per cent, level with the previously dominant Social Democrats (SPD).

The SPD welcomed the spy probe, saying it was well overdue.

Germany’s BfV is empowered to put under surveillance civilians and groups it considers “extremist” and threatening to German democracy.

It has previously gathered data on far-left opposition Die Linke party politicians, which partly emerged from the defunct East Germany’s communist party.

The BfV was also due to start full surveillance of the AfD youth organisation, Young Alternative (JA), which is suspected of having links to the far-right Identitarian Movement. A group around AfD MP Bjoern Hoecke in the eastern state of Thuringia has been designated “suspicious cases”.

The party was founded in 2013 by a Eurosceptic group of academics and economists while the EU was bailing out debt-ridden Greece. It then turned into an anti-migrant and anti-Muslim populist party, fuelled by anger over the Merkel’s decision to allow more than a million refugees into Germany in 2015.

AfD co-leader Alice Weidel said the BfV was being used to attack an “undesirable political rival” and to frighten voters before this year’s European and regional elections.

“Damning material was being sought in vain for months but nothing was found that would justify a formal observation by the BfV,” Weidel said. “The decision on an observation has not yet been taken at all, but the test case nonetheless represents a prejudgment.”

The AfD has destabilised the current government because no other party will work with it. Picture credit: Wikimediaür_Deutschland_-_Uelzen.jpg/1024px-Alternative_für_Deutschland_-_Uelzen.jpg

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