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German spy boss fuels speculation agency colluded with journalists to smear right-wing party and spark protests

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service has admitted his agency knew weeks in advance who was going to attend a controversial political meeting that has sparked “anti-Nazi” protests across the country.

The meeting late last year at a hotel in Potsdam, just outside Berlin, involved representatives from the surging right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), and became the subject of an investigative report which revealed attendees discussed mass deportations, released during massive anti-government farmer protests.

The revelation about President Thomas Haldenwang of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) – which has had the AfD under surveillance for years, has now fuelled speculation that his agency collaborated with non-profit left-linked news organisation Correctiv to smear the AfD and incite a new wave of protests, this time fully supported by the political establishment, Eugyppius reported.

Correctiv claimed to have sent an undercover journalist to spy on proceedings and set up hidden cameras, emerging with multiple direct quotes. This has raised questions over whether the BfV tipped off Correctiv and provided records or transcripts of the meeting to its journalists.

Mr Haldenwang, a member of the centre-right CDU which is the party most under pressure from the AfD, called on Germans to “wake up and finally take a clear stance against extremism” a day after the exposé, and was soon joined by embattled German Chancellor Olaf Scholz whose approval rating sits at 20%.

Mr Scholz posted a speech calling for more protests and claiming that “right-wing extremists are attacking our democracy” and warning about Nazi race ideology.

The ensuing demonstrations, organised by the AfD’s left-wing and centrist political opponents and cheered on by the German mainstream media, have continued until this weekend, although the AfD’s popularity seems largely unaffected.

At the private Potsdam meeting right-wing Austrian activist Martin Sellner gave a speech on remigration, which Correctiv alleged included a proposal for the mass deportation of asylum seekers, non-citizen residents, and non-assimilated German citizens.

Sellner has denied proposing anything illegal, and insisted he made it clear that “no distinctions can be made citizens … there can be no second-class citizens” in an email to Reuters.

“Unassimilated citizens like Islamists, gangsters and welfare cheats should be pushed to adapt through a policy of standards and assimilation,” he said, and added they could be incentivised to return to their countries of origin.

The AfD said it had no plans to deport unassimilated migrants with German citizenship, and said the proposals were not party policy, but have been the main target of the protests nonetheless.

Two polls last week saw a slight fall in nationwide support for the AfD, the second most popular party in Germany, but it is steady on 35% in the eastern state of Saxony according to a third survey from Thursday.

The controversy over the remigration proposal comes as Donald Trump vows to carry out the largest deportation program in American history if re-elected after the illegal immigrant population doubled to 20.2 million under Joe Biden, and Pakistan forcibly reparitates more than 500,000 Afghans.

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