Suspected German coup plot spawns dozens of arrests

BERLIN (AP) — German police rounded up dozens of people including its own chief executive, a retired civil servant and a former judge Wednesday, accusing them of plotting to overthrow the government. violent government but they don’t know how strong this plan is.

A German government official and lawmaker said investigators may have discovered a real conspiracy, a drunken conspiracy theory, or both. However, Germany takes any right-wing threat seriously and thousands of police officers carried out pre-dawn raids across much of the country.

“We are talking about a group that, according to what we know so far, planned to violate the democratic constitution with an armed attack,” in the German parliament, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

Sara Nanni, a lawmaker in the Green party, part of the German government, suggested that the party would not be able to.

“Other details are coming to light that cast doubt on whether these people have the intelligence to plan and carry out this kind of war,” Nanni said in a post on the Mastodon social network. “The truth is: no matter how bad their ideas and how hopeless their plans, even the attempt is dangerous!”

Federal prosecutors said the group is accused of espousing “a collection of secret ideas that contain stories from so-called Reich Citizens and QAnon ideas. “The supporters of the Reich Citizens’ Movement rejected Germany’s post-war constitution and called for the downfall of the government, while QAnon was a global conspiracy theory originating in the United States.

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Germany’s national intelligence agency has been monitoring the Reich’s citizens since 2016. Authorities estimate that the fugitive movement has about 21,000 supporters.

Lawmakers say the suspects believe the so-called “deep state controls Germany.”

One of the suspects arrested on Wednesday is Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, the 71-year-old son of Reuss, who continues to use the title despite Germany removing any role for the king for more than a year. a hundred years ago.

Federal prosecutors said Reuss, who the party plans to install as Germany’s new leader, had contacted Russian officials with the intention of imposing new laws in the country once the German government was overthrown. There is no indication that the Russians responded well.

Police also arrested Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a judge and former member of parliament with the far-right Party for Germany..

The Alternative for Germany, known by its acronym AfD, is increasingly scrutinized by security services. because of his connections with extremists.

AfD members Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel said they only learned about the alleged amnesty plan from the media, and criticized them.

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“We have full confidence in the authorities involved and demand a swift and thorough investigation,” they said in a statement.

Federal prosecutor Peter Frank said that about 3,000 employees were involved in the attack which took place at 150 sites in 11 of the 16 states in Germany.

Police arrested 22 German citizens on suspicion of “one of the terrorist organizations,” prosecutors said. They said that three other people, including a Russian citizen, are suspected of supporting the organization. Another 27 people are being investigated.

One of those arrested was a serving soldier and support officer for Germany’s special forces unit in the southwestern city of Calw. The department has received an investigation about what the authorities called some soldiers’ far-right beliefs.

Along with the arrests in Germany, prosecutors said one person was arrested in the Austrian city of Kitzbuehel and another in Italy.

The last suspect, a 64-year-old German citizen who was a former officer in the German special forces, is accused of being part of a criminal organization that wants to “undermine the German democratic system in any way possible.” – including criminals – and replaced it in another unknown state,” the police said in a statement, adding that an extradition process is underway.

“Of course, there are many people who stand up and tell complicated stories after drinking alcohol,” said German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann. “In this case, however, there is such a strong suspicion that the group wanted to do something violet that the investigating judge at the Federal Supreme Court ordered the investigation.”

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Some of the parties have made “full preparations” to use the lower house of parliament in Germany’s federal parliament, according to lawyers.

Wednesday’s attack showed that “we know how to use enough force to defend ourselves against the enemies of democracy,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.

“The research provides insight into the depth of threats in the Reich Citizens milieu,” Faeser said. “Only further research will provide a clearer picture of how the government’s strategy has come about.”

Officials have repeatedly warned and far-right extremists pose a serious threat to Germany’s domestic security. This threat was demonstrated by the assassination of a local politician and the deadly attack on the synagogue in 2019. A year later, far-right activists participating in protests against the country’s pandemic restrictions tried to do not undermine the Bundestag. house in Berlin.

Faeser announced this year that the government planned to deport about 1,500 suspected extremists. and improving background checks for gun owners as part of a broader crackdown on the right.


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