In major blow to civil liberties, German intelligence agencies can now spy on AfD party

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One of Germany’s top intelligence agencies has reportedly classified the entire Alternative for Germany party (AfD) as a suspected right-wing extremist group, thus paving the way for allowing state intelligence agencies to monitor party members, including the ability to read their emails and listen to their phone calls. 

The chief of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Thomas Haldenwang, informed all state offices on Wednesday that the step was taken on Feb. 25. However, due to legal complications, the BfV is. not permitted to officially announce the new AfD designation to the public.

Given AfD’s status as the largest opposition party in Germany and the harm the new classification could have on the party’s chances in upcoming elections, there are concerns that democratic principles may not apply to the AfD due to its rejection of mass migration and its electoral threat to the establishment parties of the country.

The new classification means that the BfV can track the party using all intelligence procedures, including secret methods. However, due to the unfinished proceedings before the administrative court, the agency is not yet monitoring AfD members of the Federal Assembly, state parliaments, and the European Parliament, including AfD candidates for this year’s German parliamentary elections.

The Federal Spokesman for the AfD, Tino Chrupalla, highlighted the undemocratic nature of the decision and accused the BfV of leaking the information before it was officially allowed to do so in order to harm the AfD’s electoral chances.

“The [BfV] intervenes with state resources in the free competition of democratic parties. Although it is not allowed to announce the suspected case, it is launching appropriate information to the media in order to harm the AfD. This is unique in the history of the Federal Republic,” Chrupella wrote. 


The BfV’s decision was preceded by another revision of an approximately 1,000-page report that was already available in January. However, the Federal Ministry of the Interior is said to have not given the green light for this due to legal risks. The new version has now apparently been approved.

At the national level, German counterintelligence decided in March last year to watch the nationalist Wing (Der Flügel) within the AfD, because, according to authorities, the brnach was confirmed to be extreme right-wing group. Although the wing has formally dissolved in the meantime, members from the group are still strongly represented in AfD and contributed to the new classification.

According to Spiegel, the report provides evidence that the AfD violates the guarantee of human dignity and the principle of democracy in the Basic Law. There are also said to be connections to organizations such as the Identitarian Movement, One Percent, and the Institute for State Policy as well as Compact magazine.

Officially no confirmation because of AfD lawsuits

When questioned by the media, the BfV did not want to confirm the decision.

“With regard to the unfinished proceedings and respect for the court, the BfV will not comment publicly on this matter,” the magazine quoted a counterintelligence spokesman. The AfD has taken a number of legal steps to prevent the counterintelligence from monitoring the party.

Several state associations of the AfD had already been classified as suspected cases. Most recently, the AfD Saxony was targeted by the secret service. The opposition party is also being observed as a suspected case in Thuringia, Brandenburg, and Saxony-Anhalt.

Title image: People attend an event during the street Europe and communal election campaigning of the far-right Alternative for Germany AfD in Gera, Germany, Friday, May 17, 2019. The next elections to the European Parliament will be held between 23 and 26 May 2019. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

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