German Bundestag staff have denied an entry card to a soldier recruited by an opposition right-wing parliamentarian, according to the newspaper Die Zeit. The soldier was a further suspect in an alleged far-right plot.
Entry to Berlin's parliamentary complex was refused to "Maximilian T.," a soldier in the Franco-German brigade who was investigated alongside "Franco A.," an officer charged last year with being involved in a plot to kill political figures and then blame refugees, the online version of Die Zeit newspaper reported on Thursday.
Under Germany's press code, suspects' last names are typically not disclosed to protect their privacy.
Jan Nolte, one of 92 deputies from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), requested an entry card for his "personal assistant."
Bundestag staff checking the man's credentials in November stumbled on intelligence warnings not to issue him the special clearance needed to access parliamentary buildings. Such access is provided in various forms to parliamentary assistants, journalists and lobbyists.
Nolte, who lists his profession as a chief petty officer on the Bundestag website and who sits for the AfD on the German parliament's Defense Committee, told Die Zeit he employed "Maximilian T." part-time for seven hours per week and denied he had had anything to do with the alleged plot.
"I'm convinced that he is innocent," Nolte said, adding that he knew T. as a "level-headed young person."
Brigade member still under investigation
Die Zeit quoted a spokeswoman for the Federal Prosecutor's Office in Karlsruhe as saying that a probe continued against "Maximilian T.," who was released from investigative custody in July.
The French AFP news agency quoted a German army spokesman as saying T. was still serving with the brigade and had sought a permit for secondary work.
Die Zeit said the special clearance refusal was rare for Bundestag assistants as parliamentarians are guaranteed the right to exercise their electoral mandates as they see fit.
One publicized case of a previous refusal involved Christian Klar, who after serving jail time for Red Army Faction crimes, was sought as a Left party deputy's assistant.
Article 7 of the Bundestag's house rules, tightened somewhat since February 2016, allows the parliamentary speaker - currently Wolfgang Schäuble – to ban people from parliamentary buildings for misbehavior, using security staff if necessary.
Civic group exposes lobbyists
Access was highlighted in 2015 during a campaign by Abgeordnetenwatch, a Hamburg-based civil society transparency group that is still demanding the Bundestag publish a registry of lobbyists, including those working for weapons suppliers.
So far, its campaign petition has gathered 227,000 signatures.
Newspaper: Far-right links in several AfD bureaus
In a special report, the left-leaning Berlin-based daily Tageszeitung (taz) estimates that with 300 staff members working for the offices of 92 AfD parliamentarians, 23 offices had "links to extreme right-wing parties, think tanks, media, fraternities or other organizations."
"[Far-right] groups and networks now have their own representatives in the Bundestag," taz wrote. "The AfD workers are not only paid out of public revenues but also have access to sensitive information, such as confidential intelligence service findings."
Such information includes documents from Germany's domestic intelligence agency on left- and right-wing extremism.
ipj/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)