Angela Merkel’s government is now opening discussion into having the interior secret service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz), spy on the Alternative for Germany (AfD) — the biggest opposition party in the nation.
Germany has a long tradition of suppressing political opposition by using secret police — from the Nazi Gestapo to the East German Stasi.
Hans-Georg Maaßen, the Conservative head of the Verfassungsschutz, argued against the surveillance, as there is no evidence that the AfD endangers the constitution. He has now been forced out of office.
In May, Merkel claimed that “mobs” were “hunting down foreigners of the streets of Chemnitz” over the killing of a young German man by “refugees.” Hans-Georg Maaßen called her out on her lie, publicly declaring that there is no evidence anyone was “hunting down” anyone from Chemnitz. He was subsequently forced to step down.
During his time in office, Hans-Georg Maaßen was extremely effective, managing to prevent seven major terror attacks since 2015. The AfD believes that he will now be replaced by someone who is more concerned with spying on political opponents than stopping terrorism.
The AfD has been repeatedly accused of being “far-right” or even “neo-Nazis” for political means, much like Trump supporters so often are here in the United States. The AfD emphatically denies these allegations.
However, AfD MP Petr Bystron, a Czech refugee from Communism, was surveilled by the Bavarian Verfassungsschutz over a Facebook post where he called protests by the Identitarian Movement “non-violent” and “humorous”. Though Bystron made it clear that he and the AfD were not part of the Identitarian Movement, his house was searched and a hard drive containing his children’s cartoons was confiscated.
Bystron went to court arguing against the illegal search and seizure and against publishing the surveillance campaign. He won.
“When I fled from Communism 30 years ago, I never would have dreamed that one day, I would be pursued by the secret police again, with the same Stalinist smear tactics, but this time in the West, in a supposed democracy. But Angela Merkel was a propaganda officer in the Socialist Youth League FDJ, so I guess these are just her natural instincts coming out,” Bystron told The Gateway Pundit
Bystron’s office explained to The Gateway Pundit that they are concerned the same strategy may now be applied to the AfD as a whole.
In Germany, if you are a government official or a legal professional you are not allowed to associate with any group that is under observation by the Verfassungsschutz. This means that the AfD would not be able to work with any legal professionals and would essentially be crippled — without any sort of trial to defend themselves.
To avoid being labeled as an “enemy of the constitution,” the AfD had legal expert Prof. Dietrich Murswiek put together a list of guidelines they should follow. He also created a list of phrases previously used by AfD politicians that could illegally be used to justify surveillance, including “criminal aliens,” “Conservative revolution,” and “invaders.” He suggested that though these terms and phrases were perfectly legal, the party may want to avoid them to prevent future problems.
Murswiek explicitly pointed out that these are phrases that should be protected by freedom of speech, but the document was leaked to the mainstream media, who used it to claim that the AfD was acknowledging that it uses terms and phrases which are associated with the far-right. According to Bystron’s office, politicians such as Patrick Gensburg from Merkel’s CDU used these false reports to demand the AfD be put under government surveillance.
As the calls for surveillance intensified, Murswiek explained that he was “in no way judging whether the AfD should be put under government surveillance.” He publicly explained that he “made it very clear the list of phrases I compiled were not phrases that justified a government surveillance” as they are covered under freedom of speech.
“I nonetheless recommended the AfD refrain from using these phrases, to avoid perfectly legal phrases being judged to run counter to the constitution,” Murswiek said.
On November 5, members of the AfD held a press conference to state that the party is fully in line with the German democratic constitution and will take legal action if they are subjected to unwarranted government surveillance.
“The Alternative for Germany is a completely law-abiding and legitimate party”, said party co-chair Jörg Meuthen. “We are the party that is most adamant about demanding the constitution be upheld… We stand rock-solid on the foundation of our free and democratic constitution, and accuse those in government who think they can suspend the constitution. We fully support the state’s monopoly on the use of force, and entirely reject the use of violence against people and things for political purposes.”
Regarding the potential surveillance, Meuthen said that it is likely politically motivated — as Merkel’s government doesn’t seem very concerned about their own abuses of the constitution.
“You have to suspect that it could be purely politically motivated, out of fear on the part of our political opponents – because they themselves are not so worried about obeying the rule of law, as we have noted, such as Angela Merkel’s opening of the borders 2015, which numerous legal experts have judged to be illegal and unconstitutional,” Meuthen said.
On Thursday, MP Lars Castellucci of the Social Democrats mocked the AfD for being worried about government secret police surveillance. He once again referred to them as “enemies of the constitution” for using terms like “resettlement.”
According to the Central Crime Archive, the AfD has been subjected to more violent attacks by Antifa and other left-wing groups than any other party. According to Bystron’s office, these attacks are often supported by more mainstream leftist groups.
Attacks on the AfD per the Central Crime Archive:
2014: 4 criminal attacks
2015: 76 criminal attacks
2016: 464 criminal attacks
2017: 669 criminal attacks
This includes 124 assaults, 77 cases of threats of violence and 66 cases of vandalism.