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German domestic intelligence places AfD’s rightist wing under surveillance

Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has placed the Alternative for Germany’s right-most nationalist wing of the party under official observation.

Germany’s BfV intelligence agency has placed the Der Flügel wing – the right-most nationalistic wing of the AfD – under observation because it says the faction’s leaders, Björn Höcke and Andreas Kalbitz, are ‘enemies of democracy’, German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reports.

The domestic intelligence agency says that its suspicions that the party’s internal union pursues extreme right-wing aspirations have been confirmed, according to the news agency dpa.

The leading figures of the “wing” are Björn Höcke, the Thuringian head of state, as well as Brandenburg’s AfD chief Andreas Kalbitz, and Hans-Thomas Tillschneider from Saxony-Anhalt.

According to Thomas Haldenwang, the President for the Protection of the Constitution, the positions held by the “wing” are not compatible with the Basic Law.

On Thursday, during a press conference in Berlin where the move was announced, the head of the BfV spy agency described Höcke and Kalbitz as “right-wing extremists”.

The “wing”, which is said to have around 7,000 members, had in the past put its critics within the AfD on the defensive, and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution viewed this as a clear indication of its growing influence.

According to a 2019 report from Der Spiegel, up to 40 percent of AfD supporters in Germany’s former eastern states are members of the “wing”.

Alice Weidel, the parliamentary group leader of the AfD in the Bundestag, accused the BfV of criminalizing her party “using underground methods”.

In response to Thursday’s announcement, Weidel took to Twitter, writing that her party would “take all possible rule of law measures against the observation”.

AfD chairman Jörg Meuthen also slammed the move, calling it a deliberate tactic to silence the party.
“This is a politically motivated, anti-AfD convoluted act,” said Meuthen.

“The security agency has made a mistake with its allegations,” the party said in an official statement this week.
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