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German lawmakers seek answers over alleged far-right plot

BERLIN– German lawmakers said on Monday they were probing an alleged coup plot uncovered last week when police arrested dozens of people linked to the far-right Reich Citizens movement.

Prosecutors said the 24 Germans and one Russian detained last Wednesday are suspected of being members of or supporting a “terrorist organization” that was planning to overthrow the government.

The suspects planned to set up 280 armed units across Germany which would have been tasked with ‘arresting and executing’ people after a coup, German news agency dpa reported, citing a briefing given to legislators.

“There were obviously plans which, given the scale of their intentions against our liberal democracy, are shocking,” said Konstantin von Notz, a Green Party MP.

“Now the evidence that has been collected must be carefully considered,” he said after a meeting with federal prosecutors. “But what we know today, what has already been presented today to the Legal Affairs Committee by the Attorney General, are key facts that are extremely disturbing.”

Prosecutors informed lawmakers of the seizure of a large number of “non-disclosure agreements” by people whom the alleged plotters had tried to recruit, according to the agency dpa

Left-wing party lawmaker Clara Buenger told dpa that investigators also reported finding more than 400,000 euros ($422,000) in cash, gold and silver coins, satellite phones and even evidence a safe filled with gold bars.

Speaking to reporters after a closed meeting of Parliament’s intelligence oversight committee, von Notz said “many questions have been answered, many remain open”.

He and other lawmakers drew parallels to the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Prosecutors said some of those detained last week were planning to enter Germany’s parliament, or Bundestag, with weapons.

“We have seen time and time again in recent years that the parliament buildings are a welcome target for far-right extremists, conspiracy theories and their cronies,” said Konstantin Kuhle, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party.

“The Bundestag is the most visited parliament in the world,” he said. “As MPs, we cannot do our job if we have to isolate ourselves.”

Kuhle warned that far-right extremists were increasingly forging networks that penetrated deep into what he described as “the middle of society”, including soldiers and police.

One of those arrested was Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a judge and former lawmaker for the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party.

Germany’s top security official, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, has suggested tougher rules for officials suspected of supporting anti-government movements such as Reich Citizens.

Faeser Social Democratic Party member Uli Groetsch said the alleged coup plans also showed the need for closer scrutiny of the AfD.

“We cannot accept that there is a party in this country which, as it now appears, is directly behind an attempted coup,” he said.

ABC News

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