Officials predict more arrests over German far-right plot

BERLIN – German officials say they expect more people to be detained in connection with an alleged far-right plan to topple the government that saw 25 people rounded up Wednesday, including a self-styled prince, a retired paratrooper and a judge.

The plot was allegedly hatched by people linked to the so-called Reich Citizens movement, which rejects Germany’s post-war constitution and the legitimacy of the government.

Georg Meier, the top security official in Thuringia state, told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Thursday that he expects a second wave of people being detained as authorities review evidence.

Meier accused the far-right Alternative for Germany party of fuelling conspiracy theories like those that allegedly motivated the plotters detained across the country this week.

Those held include a former Alternative for Germany lawmaker, Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, who is also a Berlin judge. The party condemned the alleged coup plans.

Also detained was Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, who prosecutors consider one of the two ringleaders of the plot. The 71-year-old member of the House of Reuss continues to use the title of ‘prince’ despite Germany abolishing any formal role for royalty more than a century ago.

While some in Germany have questioned whether the suspected extremists would actually have been able to pull off any serious attack, authorities said the involvement of serving and former members of the army and police showed the plot needed to be taken seriously.

Germany is highly sensitive to far-right extremism because of its Nazi past and repeated acts of violence carried out by neo-Nazis in recent years, including the killing of a regional politician and the deadly attack on a synagogue in 2019.

Two years ago, far-right extremists taking part in a protest against the country’s pandemic restrictions tried and failed to storm the Bundestag building in Berlin.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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