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German state suspects far-right cases in intelligence staff

October 1, 2020

The suspects worked as part of a team that monitored right-wing extremism online in North Rhine-Westphalia. But they reportedly shared and posted anti-Islam or xenophobic content on chat groups and social media.

A polkice officer watches video surveillance
Image: Uwe Anspach/dpa/picture alliance

Four domestic intelligence staff in Germany's western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) are suspected of being involved in far-right activity online, according to a local media report on Thursday.

It comes just two weeks after the state discovered five right-wing extremist chat groups among its police, leading to the suspension of 29 officers.

What are the accusations?

Three of the four suspected cases worked for an intelligence observation team, local newspaper Rheinische Post reported, citing the NRW Interior Ministry.

Another was an administrative clerk in the police department.

They were flagged in social networks and chats for sending videos with "anti-Islam or xenophobic connotations."

Read more: Opinion: German police officers deserve respect

The suspected staff were part of an observation team that was involved in all areas of investigation, including monitoring right-wing extremism, according to the ministry.

"The intelligence team concerned was disbanded and leadership changes were made," a ministry spokesperson told the Rheinische Post.

The police department employee was connected to people from the right-wing extremist scene on Facebook, the ministry said.

The Interior Ministry took immediate disciplinary action, according to the spokesperson.

Read more: Germany: AfD sacks former spokesman for saying migrants 'could be gassed'

How racist is Germany's police?

Is this part of a larger right-wing problem?

Last week NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul said 100 police staff have been suspected of racism or right-wing extremism since 2017.

NRW is the most populous of Germany's 16 federal states.

Later on Thursday, German public television ARD is set to broadcast an investigation into a chat group with racist content among the ranks of the Berlin police. 

Authorities in the German capital said they had launched a probe into the allegations. 

Read more: Berlin police admits failures over far-right crime spree in Neukölln

kmm/rt (dpa, AFP)