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Ex-spy chief to join law firm representing AfD

Timothy Jones
September 30, 2019

A law firm that represented the populist AfD against Germany's domestic spy agency is now hiring that agency's ex-head. Hans-Georg Maassen lost his job amid allegations of improper dealings with the party.

Hans-Georg Maassen
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Gambarini

The controversial former head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency (BfV), Hans-Georg Maassen, is joining a Cologne law firm that counts the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) among its clients, German media reported on Monday.

Maassen has, however, said that he will not take on cases involving the party, according to the reports by broadcasters WDR and NDR and the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

"I do not want to be accused of being the AfD's lawyer," he was quoted as saying.

It was partly allegations that he had passed sensitive information to the AfD and harbored sympathies with the party's anti-immigration stance that led to his being forced into retirement in late 2018 after six years as BfV head.

Read more:  Germany's domestic spy agency and its history of scandals

Fellow conservatives

The Cologne firm took successful legal action against the BfV in February of this year to prevent it from continuing to make public its classification of the AfD as a "case under surveillance" (Prüffall) for alleged unconstitutional activities. The court ruled, among other things, that the classification could deter potential voters.

The firm is run by Ralf Höcker, an expert on media law who is also the spokesman for the WerteUnion, an association of conservatives of which Maassen is also an active member. Although the WerteUnion takes as members only those who already belong to Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU conservative bloc, its youth branch JU or associated groups, it is not recognized by the CDU as a party organization.

According to Höcker, the AfD takes only third place among his firm's political clients after the CDU and the SPD.

The reports quoted Maassen as saying he would not take on cases "connected with the BfV," or represent the Left Party or the Greens.

"That would not be good for them or good for me," he was quoted as saying.

Read more: German ex-spy chief pushes Angela Merkel's CDU further right