The leak of an arrest warrant, which sparked violent protests in the eastern German city of Chemnitz earlier this week, has alarmed regional politicians and sparked fears of collusion between law enforcement sources and Germany’s far-right.
The protests, which which began on Sunday and carried on into Monday, were sparked by the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old German man. Soon after a photo began to circulate, particularly among the WhatsApp group of the far-right Pro Chemnitz group, which showed a police arrest warrant for a 22-year-old Iraqi man.
As a result, far-right protesters explicitly targeted anyone who in their eyes did not look German. And police have said that they are investigating alleged assaults on a Syrian, Afghan, and Bulgarian which took place during Sunday’s unrest. Far-right demonstrators were also filmed making Nazi salutes in front of police without any reaction — despite the salute being illegal.
— Korallenherz (@Korallenherz) August 27, 2018
German police said that they’d already begun a judicial inquiry into the warrant’s leak, which they described as “the violation of official secrets.” The incident has drawn sharp criticism from German politicians, a country with extremely strict judicial privacy laws.
“To hear that the arrest warrant was probably leaked by the police to right-wing extremist circles means that we have a huge problem to deal with,” Martin Dulig, deputy premier of Saxony state, said. “This is an egregious occurrence.”
But what makes this incident even more alarming is that it’s only the latest example showing connections between Germany’s law enforcement and its far-right.
Last week a far-right protester who called police on a German TV crew — who were then detained for 45 minutes — was himself revealed as an off-duty police employee. As a result, the term Pegizei has begun to circulate on Twitter, which combines the German polizei (police) with the far-right Islamophobic group PEGIDA. On Thursday, the police employee resigned from his position.
Germany’s domestic intelligence has also warned about a surge of far-right activity among the “Reichsbuerger” movement, which believes the current German government is illegitimate and has allegiance to the Nazi Third Reich. In April, security services estimated that there is a “high-double digit number” of public servants, including those in the police and army, who have allegiance to the Reichsbuerger movement.
Police in Chemnitz have been fiercely criticized for their perceived lackluster response to the violence in the city, and admitted that they mobilized far from enough officers to deal with the estimated 3,000 far-right protesters, in addition to an estimated 1,000 left-wing counter-protesters. Fresh demonstrations are planned for Thursday August 30, and the German government has offered to send Federal police reinforcements to the city to help keep the peace.