Germany’s far-right AfD clogs court case with spying objections

By Thomson Reuters Mar 13, 2024 | 10:19 AM

By Thomas Escritt

MUENSTER, Germany (Reuters) – Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) demanded on Wednesday to know if security services had planted agents in its leadership, unleashing a flurry of court filings that threatened to halt a hearing over suspected extremism.

The party is challenging the right of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) to monitor it with all tools at its disposal from phone-tapping to informants.

The party, with 78 of 735 seats in Germany’s parliament, leads polls in several poorer, post-industrial eastern states where its anti-establishment, anti-immigrant stance resonates. It opposes Germany’s backing for Ukraine in the war with Russia.

Originally planned to last two days, the case looked set to continue much longer after the party’s lawyers gummed up Wednesday’s hearing with repeated, almost identically worded requests for testimony from senior BfV officials.

AfD lawyer Michael Fengler asked for testimony from different officials on whether the BfV had planted “sources, spies, agents provocateurs, undercover agents, informants or concealed employees in the plaintiff’s leadership”.

No evidence was presented that the BfV had done so or if there would be legal consequences anyway. AfD lawyers also asked if the BfV had spied on case preparations, which it denied.


BfV lawyer Wolfgang Roth called the questions “out of the blue” and “delaying tactics”. When judge Gerald Buck said the motions should be submitted in consolidated form later, the AfD accused him of bias and demanded his replacement.

The case, titled “AfD vs Federal Republic of Germany”, attracted so much media and public interest that the hearing had to be moved to the foyer of the court in the city of Muenster.

Proceedings were watched over by a Korean artist’s two giant statues of squatting men.

The party, which has moved increasingly to the right, portrays itself as the target of a complacent, self-serving establishment it stands ready to sweep away.

The BfV, which has the power to monitor perceived threats – from foreign agents and neo-Nazis to Communists and racist, violent or anti-democratic groups – has since 2021 viewed the AfD as a “suspected extremist” organisation.

A ruling against the party would do little to deter core supporters but could put off wavering voters in upcoming European elections if spooked by allegations of extremism.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Miranda Murray and Andrew Cawthorne)