German Domestic Spy Agency Has Its Former Head, Now a Hard-Right Politician, under Scrutiny

AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File
Hans-Georg Maassen, then head of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution waits for the beginning of a hearing at the home affairs committee of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday Sept. 12, 2018.

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has put its former head, who has become a hard-right politician since being removed from the job several years ago, under scrutiny.

Hans-Georg Maassen posted a letter from the BfV agency to his lawyer on his website Wednesday after public broadcaster ARD and media outlet t-online reported that the authority he led from 2012 to 2018 now has him in its files on right-wing extremism.

The letter, dated Jan. 16, listed information that the BfV has him in its files. The agency refused to comment on the report and the letter, saying that it doesn’t comment on individuals because of their rights, German news agency dpa reported.

Maassen was removed as the head of the BfV in 2018 after appearing to downplay far-right violence against migrants in the eastern city of Chemnitz. He became a vocal if marginal figure on the hard right of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, the party once led by former Chancellor Angela Merkel, and ran unsuccessfully for election to the national parliament in 2021.

CDU leaders last year launched an effort to expel Maassen, following a tweet in which he said that the direction of “the driving forces in the political and media sphere” was “eliminatory racism against whites and the burning desire for Germany to kick the bucket.”

In recent weeks, Maassen has set in motion plans to turn an arch-conservative group he leads, the WerteUnion, into a new political party. On Saturday, he tweeted a letter announcing that he was leaving the CDU, currently Germany’s main opposition party, which he asserted is now “a variant of the socialist parties and not an alternative to them.”

On Wednesday, Maassen wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the government “is clearly afraid” of him and his prospective new party, and said the letter sent to his lawyer “contains no substantiated evidence that justifies observation.”