German court blocks intelligence service from spying on AfD party in Bavaria

BfV headquarters in Cologne. (Wikimedia Commons)
By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

In a number of German states, the country’s main conservative opposition party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), is already listed as a “potential threat” to democracy and is being monitored by security services. However, in Bavaria, the party just won at least a partial victory against similar surveillance efforts.

The Administrative Court of Munich has blocked the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s main domestic intelligence service, from monitoring the Bavarian state chapter of the AfD party. In other states like Thuringia, the BfV can read all emails and monitor the telephone calls of all AfD members without a warrant, but the Munich judges blocked these methods in Bavaria. The judges found that such an operation “severely interferes with the party’s activities with the risk of clandestine spying.”

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In addition, the BfV is prohibited from making public statements claiming the AfD was threatening democracy or the German constitution.

There is “the danger of an impairment of the equal chances of the party in particular regarding the future federal state election campaign,” the court ruled. However, the party must accept “at least to be observed from publicly accessible sources.”

Currently, there is a push to list the entire AfD as suspects in an anti-democracy case at the federal level, essentially putting the entire party structure under surveillance. In addition, politicians from a wide range of parties, including the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, the Left, and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), have pushed for an outright ban on their electoral rival during a time when, according to polling, the AfD has exploded in popularity,

However, the Munich court only issued an interim ruling, and proceedings are still ongoing. The judges indicated that they want to “carry out their own evaluation of the material submitted, which comprises several thousand pages.”

The Bavarian Interior Ministry can also appeal the decision within the next two weeks.

The AfD expressed its support for the decision.

“Neither in the pre-trial proceedings nor in court could the Office for the Protection of the Constitution substantiate its reasons for the surveillance,” the state AfD branch wrote.

The party’s state organization chairman and Bundestag representative Stephan Protschka also accused the BfV of being “incapable of any orderly record keeping.”

“In court, they presented 4,000 chaotically pieced together documents, some of them illegible and unsorted, which they dumped as justification,” Protschka said.

The BfV lost a similar case in Hessen last week, with the court in Wiesbaden ordering the BfV to halt investigations into the AfD.

Both Bavaria and Hessen will see elections take place next year, raising fears among the left that the AfD could make major gains. In Bavaria, the AfD has improved from 10 to 12 percent, according to the latest polling.

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