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China spying: Krah still tops AfD's EU ticket

April 24, 2024

The Alternative for Germany politician Maximilian Krah will stay on as the AfD's lead candidate in June's European elections. On Tuesday, one of Krah's aides was accused by Germany's government of spying for China.

Maximilian Krah
Krah has also been forced to deny allegations of accepting money to spread pro-Russian propagandaImage: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa/picture alliance

German EU lawmaker Maximilian Krah on Wednesday said he would remain the nationalist Alternative for Germany's lead candidate in upcoming European elections, despite the fact that one of his aides was charged with committing espionage for Chinese intelligence agencies.

It was agreed, however, that Krah would take a lower profile at the start of the campaign.

What did the AfD politician say?

Krah said he would immediately sack Jian G., the aide in his EU parliamentary office who is now in custody.

Krah said he had agreed with the party leadership that he would step back from the election campaign launch in Donaueschingen on Saturday.

"But if you now believe that this is the end of my leading candidacy, then I have to disappoint you," Krah said after a 20-minute meeting with party leaders Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla. "I am and will remain the lead candidate."

Krah had been summoned by the party to Berlin, with Weidel promising a statement "on Wednesday at the latest."

Weidel and Chrupalla will attend the election campaign launch in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg.

The member of the European Parliament (MEP) repeated that he saw "no personal misconduct" in his own actions.

However, Krah admitted that "a crime" had been committed in his office and there were "serious allegations" that meant he would terminate the aide's employment.

Krah acknowledged that the espionage allegations that became known on Tuesday would "terribly overshadow" the election campaign for the European elections on June 9th.

German far-right party worker arrested on spying charges

The 47-year-old was elected to lead the party's 2024 European Union election campaign with 65.7% of party delegates in favor.

What we know about the espionage allegations

The German Federal Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday announced that Jian G., who was arrested on Monday, was brought before an investigating judge on Tuesday evening and placed in pre-trial detention. The European Parliament suspended the man with immediate effect on Tuesday. The Chinese government in Beijing rejected the allegations.

Prosecutors maintain that G. acted as an agent for a foreign secret service in a particularly serious case, describing the aide as an "employee of a Chinese secret service."

In January 2024, he is said to have repeatedly passed on "information about negotiations and decisions in the European Parliament to his intelligence client." He is also said to have spied on Chinese opposition members in Germany.

Germany 'cannot accept spying' — Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany "cannot accept spying" following the arrest of Krah's aide.

He made the comments during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Berlin.

"We cannot accept spying against us, whichever country it comes from," Sholz said.

He said recent arrests "shouldn't cause complacency but spur us to get on the trail of all who spy in our countries."

He called the allegations against the AfD "very worrying," but declined to comment further as legal proceedings are ongoing.

'China's loudest vassal'

Green party EU lawmaker Reinhard Bütikofer accused Krah of having made himself into a tool for Chinese influence.

Krah has adopted a China-friendly stance, describing reports of human rights violations, such as internment camps for Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, as "anti-China propaganda."

The AfD lawmaker has also insisted that Taiwan belongs to Beijing under international law and that Tibet is also China's rightful territory.

Bütikofer accused Krah of being "China's loudest vassal" in the right wing of the European Parliament.

Bütikofer said he did not rule out the possibility that the AfD lawmaker had some knowledge of his aide's activities.

"Indeed, I can't imagine that Krah was not aware of what his employee was doing," he said.

Czech and German media have named Krah as one of two candidates from the AfD suspected of receiving Russian funds to spread pro-Russian propaganda.

rc/sms (AFP, dpa)

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