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Mass walkout from AfD press conference

May 8, 2018

The politicians refused to take any questions from a journalist from Germany's most popular newspaper. The far-right Alternative for Germany party has repeatedly accused the press of biased coverage.

A blue AfD flag hangs from a microphone during a party event
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/K.-D. Gabbert

Journalists in the eastern state of Brandenburg walked out of a news conference on Tuesday after the far-right Aternative for Germany (AfD) party refused to take questions from one of the journalists.

Members of the AfD's state parliamentary group announced their decision at the start of the conference, singling out a reporter from the mass-circulation German daily Bild.

In response, the journalists in the room walked out in protest.

Read moreHow the far-right AfD taps into Germany's East-West divide

The association of parliamentary correspondents in Brandenburg called the AfD's decision "a serious breach of press freedom and absolutely unacceptable."

The Bild journalist in question, Michael Sauerbier, tweeted a picture of the AfD lawmakers facing empty chairs. He wrote that the AfD called off the conference following the walkout.

Read moreThe far-right's push to enter the German judicial system

Responding to the boycott, the AfD state politician Andreas Galau said the journalists' leaving reminded him "more of a kindergarten than a truly professional press."

The deputy leader of the party's state parliamentary group, Birgit Bessin, said she hoped that the journalists would be "neutral and unbiased" the next time they report on the AfD.  

Uncomfortable question

It wasn't the first run-in between the AfD and the Bild journalist. Two weeks ago, Sauerbier had upset the leader of Brandenburg's parliamentary group, Andreas Kalbitz, by asking him about his ties to a banned far-right group.

AfD politicians are known for their hostility toward journalists who report unfavorably about the party.

Read more: AfD: Meet the far-right bosses

In the run-up to September's elections, AfD co-leader Alice Weidel walked out of a TV debate when she was asked by a rival politician to distance herself from xenophobic comments made by a party colleague.

Weidel later took to Twitter to lash out at one of the moderators of the debate. In her statement, she accused the moderator of being "biased and totally unprofessional."

Read more: The far-right AfD in the Bundestag: What you need to know

ap/kms (dpa, AP)

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