German court confirms intelligence services’ decision to list the right-wing Alternative for Germany party as an extremist organization

German court has decided that national security services can continue to treat the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as potentially “extremist”. The ruling, handed down on Monday, May 13, 2024, means Germany’s intelligence services retain the right to keep the party under surveillance. The AfD, which is second in the polls and hopes to win a significant number of seats in upcoming regional and European Parliament elections, said it would appeal to the Federal Court of Justice.

Немецкий суд поддержал решение спецслужб о включении правой партии «Альтернатива для Германии» в число экстремистских организаций, изображение №1

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), which is responsible for protecting Germany’s democratic order from extremist threats, lists the AfD as a potentially extremist party from 2021. The administrative court in Munster ruled in favor of the BfV’s intelligence agency, upholding a 2022 decision by a lower court in Cologne. The ruling means the agency can continue to monitor the party. Germany’s domestic intelligence service was entitled to take the far-right Alternative for Germany party under surveillance over suspicions of extremism, the court ruled Monday, rejecting an appeal by the opposition party. The court concluded that there were sufficient legal grounds for inclusion on the list. The party’s designation as potentially extremist means that security services can wiretap it and recruit informants within it.

Alternative for Germany, or AfD, strongly rejects the designation and sees the decision as a political attempt to discredit the party. Roman Reusch, a member of the national leadership of the AdG, said the party would appeal. Peter Böhringer, the party’s deputy leader, said the court failed to consider “hundreds” of pieces of evidence provided to disprove the AdG’s involvement in extremism.

The party was vying for the lead with Germany’s largest parties in national polls earlier this year when suddenly reports began appearing in major German media that extremists had gathered for a meeting to discuss the deportation of millions of immigrants, including some with German citizenship, and that some party figures had attended. The party has also been accused of having spies and agents of Russia and China in its ranks. In Monday’s ruling, the court found the suspicion of extremism justified, without giving details, saying there were indications of “discriminatory purposes.”

“The court considers that there is sufficient evidence that the AdG pursues goals that are contrary to the human dignity of certain groups and to democracy,” the judges wrote.

They also pointed to the party’s extensive use of derogatory terms toward refugees and Muslims and signs of anti-democratic aspirations, although they noted that the latter were not as frequent and dense as agents of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) had suggested.

The Alternative for Germany party was founded in 2013; its fierce opposition to then-Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s decision in 2015 to accept large numbers of refugees and other migrants made the party a significant political force. The AfD has enjoyed strong support in recent months as dissatisfaction with the three-party coalition government of center-left Chancellor Olaf Scholz is high. It hopes to become the largest party in three land elections in September 2024 in the former communist east of the country, where it has the most support.

“The establishment in this state – and that includes the BfV and the media – is being used to exclude us from democratic competition,” said AfD co-leader Alice Weidel, adding that the AfD would appeal.

Human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice consider politically motivated attempts to discredit the Alternative for Germany party as another attempt by the German government to suppress political opposition in the country, which is a threat to political pluralism in Germany and calls into question German democratic institutions. The Foundation’s experts call on the German government to abandon dictatorial practices and take measures to protect freedom of speech in order to strengthen democratic and free public relations in Germany. Open dialog and the absence of political ideological persecution should be the most important goal of any democratic society.