German Intelligence Chief Casts Doubt on Video Showing Far Right Chasing Migrants in Chemnitz
The authenticity of a widely circulated video allegedly showing far right supporters chasing migrants in the east German city of Chemnitz during the recent far right outbursts there has been questioned by Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.
Chemnitz, a city of about 250,000 people in the state of Saxony, saw far right and neo-Nazi protests break out on August 26, 2018, after a 35-year-old German (later revealed to be of Cuban origin) was stabbed to death in a brawl involving migrants.
Two men, one from Iraq and one from Syria, are in pre-trial detention over the Chemnitz stabbing, and a third suspect has been wanted by the German police since Tuesday.
“I share the skepticism towards media reports of right-wing extremists chasing down [foreigners] in Chemnitz,” Hans-Georg Maassen told the Bild newspaper, as cited by DW.
“There is no evidence to suggest that the video of this alleged incident circulating online is authentic,” he added.
Maassen also said his Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) had “no reliable information that such pursuits had taken place.”
“There is good reason to believe that this is deliberate misinformation, possibly to distract the public from the murder in Chemnitz,” he declared.
Maassen has recently come under fire for unexplained meetings with members of the far right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
The AfD has been gaining traction in the past few years, especially since the migrant crisis of 2015, in which Germany has accepted some 1.6 million migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, according to some estimates.
A book by a former AfD member has even alleged that during one such meeting, with former AfD chairwoman Frauke Petry, Maassen advised the far right formation on how to avoid monitoring by the BfV.
It remained unclear which video the German domestic intelligence chief was referring to in his comments to the Bild. He did not provide evidence of forged footage.
There have suppositions that he referred to a video widely shared on Twitter which shows a group of far right protesters chasing men who look non-German and attempt to kick one of them.
According to public broadcaster ARD, several journalists have been able to confirm the time, date and location of one the most-shared videos of far right protesters.
On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin that Maassen had not told the government about “deliberate misinformation” reports during the Chemnitz protests.
“We have video footage showing that there was targeted harassment, that there was rioting, that there was hate on the streets, and that has no place under our rule of law,” German Chancellor Merkel herself commented in the aftermath of the initial far right outbursts in Chemnitz.
In the wake of his comments for the Bild, Maassen was criticized by the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, the centrist Free Democrats (FDP) and the Left Party as well as by Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU). He was supported firmly only by the CSU, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party.
Chemnitz is expected to see new protests on Friday organized by the far right group “Pro Chemnitz” as well as a counter-protest concert called “Stronger Together.”
(Banner image: Video grab from Twitter)