Coup plot in Germany: 25 suspected Reichsburger extremists arrested for planning to overthrow the government


German officials on Wednesday arrested 22 suspected members and three suspected supporters of a far-right terror organization across the country on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government.

Alleged members of the plot include a descendant of German royalty and a far-right former member of the Bundestag, the lower house of Germany’s parliament, according to German prosecutors and local media.

In a statement, the German federal prosecutor’s office said around 50 people were suspected of being part of the group called Reich Citizens (Reichsbürger) movement, founded no later than November 2021, who were plotting to overthrow the government and replace it with their own order.

“The defendants are united by a profound rejection of state institutions and the democratic and liberal basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany, which has led over time to their decision to participate in their violent elimination and to engage in concrete preparatory actions to this end,” the statement read.

“Members of the group follow a conglomeration of conspiracy myths made up of accounts of the so-called Reichsbürger as well as QAnon ideology,” the statement said, adding that the alleged members of the organization were German nationals, while two of the suspected supporters were German and one was Russian.

In the statement, German prosecutors named Heinrich XIII PR, identified by CNN affiliate NTV as 71-year-old Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, as one of the ringleaders of the alleged group. The prince is a descendant of the House of Reuss, the former rulers of parts of East Germany, and now works as a property developer, according to NTV.

Heinrich was arrested in Frankfurt on Wednesday, according to video released by Reuters, which showed him being escorted out of a building by police officers to a waiting van, while other officers stood guard outside the premises .

Prosecutors allege Heinrich requested the involvement of Russian representatives in the alleged scheme. “Defendant Heinrich XIII PR has already contacted representatives of the Russian Federation in Germany,” the prosecutor said.

CNN has attempted to reach Heinrich XIII, but it is unclear if he has a legal representative.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied any Russian involvement in the coup, saying it was an internal problem for Germany. “It is more of an internal problem of the FRG (Germany) and they themselves declare that there can be no talk of any Russian intervention,” Peskov said in a daily call with reporters.

Peskov did not recognize the Russian suspect.

The prosecutor’s statement identified another suspect as Birgit MW, and ARD’s Tagesschau newspaper reports that the individual’s full name is Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, who was a member of the Bundestag representing the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) from 2017 to 2021. Since the beginning of this year, she has worked as a judge at the Berlin district court, according to ARD’s Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg.

The German federal prosecutor’s office did not confirm ARD’s information. CNN has reached out to Malsack-Winkemann for comment.

German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said on Wednesday that “democracy is defensible”, adding that a “major counterterrorism operation” was underway.

“The federal prosecutor is investigating an alleged terrorist network from the Reich citizen milieu,” Buschmann said on Twitter.

“There are suspicions that an armed attack on the constitutional bodies was planned.”

The federal prosecutor’s office said the raids are continuing and are directed at 27 other suspects.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser thanked the 3,000 police officers involved in the raids and said the Reichsbürger movement was “united by its hatred of democracy”.

Police secured an area in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday after arresting supporters of a far-right terror organization.

Germany has struggled to rein in far-right extremism in recent years. In June 2020, an elite German military unit known as the KSK was partially disbanded after discovering a buildup of right-wing extremists. The KSK engages in operations such as counter-terrorism campaigns and hostage-taking, according to news agency Agence France-Presse.

Earlier that year, in February 2020, a mass shooting left nine people dead at two shisha bars in the town of Hanau, near Frankfurt. Then-Chancellor Angela Merkel said the shooter acted for “extremist right-wing and racist motives”. This is the third deadly attack attributed to far-right suspects in the country in a year.

Experts have linked the increasingly frequent violent attacks from the German right with the rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which in 2017 became the first far-right party to win seats in the German parliament in Germany. almost 60 years.

In March 2021, the AfD was officially placed under surveillance by Germany’s domestic intelligence service BfV on suspicion of attempting to undermine the country’s democratic constitution.


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