Suspected German coup plot prompts dozens of arrests

BERLIN: german police gathered dozens of people, including a self-proclaimed prince, a retired paratrooper and a former judge, on Wednesday, accusing the suspects of discussing the violent overthrow of the government, but unaware of how concrete the plans were.
A German official and lawmaker said investigators may have detected a real conspiracy, a drunken fantasy, or both.
Regardless of, Germany takes any right-wing threats seriously and thousands of police carried out pre-dawn raids across much of the country.
“We are talking about a group which, according to what we know so far, has planned to violently abolish our democratic rule of law and an armed attack”, on the building of the German Parliament, said the government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.
Sara Nanni, a Green Party lawmaker, which is part of the German government, suggested the group may not be capable of this.
“More and more details continue to come to light, raising doubts as to whether these people were even smart enough to plan and carry out such a coup,” Nanni said in a post on the Mastodon social network. “The point is, no matter how crude their ideas and how hopeless their plans, even the attempt is dangerous!”
Federal prosecutors said the group allegedly believed in a “conglomerate of conspiracy theories made up of accounts of the so-called Citizens of the Reich as well as the QAnon ideology.
“Adherents of the Citizens of the Reich movement reject Germany’s post-war constitution and have called for the overthrow of the government, while QAnon is a global conspiracy theory with roots in the United States.
The Citizens of the Reich scene has been under observation by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency since 2016. Authorities estimate the loose movement has around 21,000 adherents.
Prosecutors said the suspects also believed Germany was run by a so-called “deep state”.
One of the alleged ringleaders arrested on Wednesday is Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, a 71-year-old member of the House of Reuss who continues to use the title despite Germany abolishing any formal role for royalty a year ago. more than a century.
Federal prosecutors said Reuss, whom the group planned to install as Germany’s new leader, had contacted Russian officials in a bid to impose a new order in the country once the German government was toppled. There is no indication that the Russians responded positively.
Police also arrested Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a judge and former lawmaker for the far-right Alternative for Germany party.
Alternative for Germany, known by its acronym AfD, has come under increasing scrutiny by security services over its links to extremists.
Co-leaders of the AfD, Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel said they only learned of the alleged coup plans from the media and condemned them.
“We have full confidence in the authorities involved and demand a prompt and full investigation,” they said in a statement.
Chief Federal Prosecutor Peter Frank said some 3,000 officers were involved in the raids carried out at 150 sites in 11 of Germany’s 16 states.
Officers arrested 22 German citizens on suspicion of “membership of a terrorist organization”, prosecutors said. Three other people, including a Russian citizen, were detained on suspicion of supporting the organization, they said. 27 other people were under investigation.
One of those arrested was a soldier who was part of the support staff of the German special forces unit KSK in the town of Calw in the south-west of the country. The unit has come under scrutiny over what officials have called the far-right beliefs of some soldiers.
Along with the detentions in Germany, prosecutors said one person was being held in the Austrian city of Kitzbühel and another in Italy.
The latter suspect, a 64-year-old German citizen, a former special forces officer in the German army, is accused of belonging to a criminal organization aiming to “overthrow the German democratic order by any means – including criminals – and replace -le by another unidentified form of state,” police said in a statement, adding that extradition proceedings were underway.
“Of course, there are a lot of people who stand up and tell confused stories after drinking alcohol,” German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said.
“In this case, however, there were such strong suspicions that the group wanted to bring a purple action that the investigating judge of the Federal Court ordered that investigative measures be taken.”
Some of the group’s members had made “concrete preparations” to storm Germany’s federal parliament with a small armed group, prosecutors said.
Wednesday’s raids showed that “we know how to defend ourselves with all our might against the enemies of democracy,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.
“The survey offers insight into the depths of the terrorist threat within the Reich citizenry,” Faeser said. “Only further investigation will provide a clear picture of the status of the coup plans.”
Officials have repeatedly warned that right-wing extremists pose the biggest threat to Germany’s internal security. This threat was underscored by the killing of a regional politician and the deadly attack on a synagogue in 2019. A year later, far-right extremists taking part in a protest against the country’s pandemic restrictions attempted to vain to storm the Bundestag building in Berlin.
Faeser announced this year that the government planned to disarm about 1,500 suspected extremists and tighten background checks on those who wanted to acquire weapons as part of a broader crackdown on the far right.


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