Thuringia AfD takes legal action against possible government surveillance

A regional branch of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party accuses a state interior minister and intelligence chief of abusing their power. It has taken its complaint to the Federal Constitutional Court.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has filed a legal complaint against two senior government officials in Thuringia for advocating that the party be considered for surveillance over its links to right-wing extremists.

The AfD's Thuringia branch lodged the complaint against state Interior Minister Georg Maier and the president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Stephan Kramer, at the Federal Constitutional Court in Weimar.

The complaint accuses both state ministers of making false allegations against the AfD when they announced in September that the state BfV office was reviewing whether the party warranted surveillance, AfD Thuringia spokesman Torban Braga said.

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Alexander Gauland

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Alice Weidel

Alice Weidel generally plays the role of "voice of reason" for the far-right populists, but she, too, is hardly immune to verbal miscues. Welt newspaper, for instance, published a 2013 memo allegedly from Weidel in which she called German politicians "pigs" and "puppets of the victorious powers in World War II. Weidel initially claimed the mail was fake, but now admits its authenticity.

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Frauke Petry

German border police should shoot at refugees entering the country illegally, the former co-chair of the AfD told a regional newspaper in 2016. Officers must "use firearms if necessary" to "prevent illegal border crossings." Communist East German leader Erich Honecker was the last German politician who condoned shooting at the border.

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Björn Höcke

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Andre Wendt

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Andre Poggenburg

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Alexander Gauland - again ...

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... and again

Gauland was roundly criticized for a speech he made to the AfD's youth wing in June 2018. Acknowledging Germany's responsibility for the crimes of the Nazi era, he went on to say Germany had a "glorious history and one that lasted a lot longer than those damned 12 years. Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history."

The allegations sparked negative media coverage of the party, Braga said, with many outlets suggesting the Thuringia branch was anti-constitutional and cooperating with right-wing extremists.

The BfV, which has not yet completed the review, has previously placed the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) and some members of the Left Party under surveillance.

Extortion allegation

The AfD's complaint also accuses Kramer of abusing his authority as state BfV chief a day before Björn Höcke was elected to lead the party's Thuringia branch. Kramer, it says, tried to "extort" AfD members against voting for Höcke by insinuating that his election would pave the way for surveillance.

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Höcke is considered the face of the AfD's extreme right-wing. He marched alongside thousands of nationalists and leaders of the anti-immigrant PEGIDA group in eastern Germany in August and had previously described Berlin's Holocaust monument as a "memorial of shame."

Stefan Möller, a state parliamentary spokesman for the AfD, said Maier and Kramer's actions were reminiscent of anti-democratic measures in communist East Germany.

"The domestic intelligence service and the interior ministry are not, unlike in the former East Germany, there to hound and vilify inconvenient opposition parties like the AfD," he said.

Thuringia was one of five states that joined West Germany after the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1990.

Formed in 2013, the AfD entered the Thuringia state parliament for the first time in 2014. It currently has 12 seats in the 91-seat assembly.

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