German prosecutors arrest 25 suspected far-right members

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German prosecutors arrest 25 suspected far-right members

BERLIN - German authorities have arrested 25 members and supporters of a far-right group that the prosecutor's office said were preparing a violent overthrow of the state, with some members suspected of plotting an armed attack on the parliament.

One active soldier and several reservists are among those being investigated, a military intelligence service spokesman told Reuters. It said the active soldier is a member of the Special Forces Command.

A former parliamentary lawmaker from the far-right Alternative For Germany AfD who serves as a judge in Berlin was also among those arrested, along with a former member of a German royal family. The prosecutor's office said individual members of the group had concrete plans to storm the Bundestag lower house of parliament in Berlin with a small armed group.

One of the suspects, identified as Heinrich under Germany's privacy law, had reached out to representatives of Russia, whom the group saw as its central contact for establishing its new order, the office said. It said there was no evidence that the representatives had responded positively to the request.

Heinrich, who came from the royal house of Reuss, who had ruled over parts of eastern Germany, was seen as the designated leader in the group's future state while another suspect, Ruediger v P, was head of the military arm, the office said.

The House of Reuss had previously distanced itself from Heinrich, calling him a confused man who pursued conspiracy theories, according to local media. The house did not respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said the raids were conducted by more than 3,000 police officials and security forces across 11 German federal states. The officers were arrested in the German states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Thuringia, as well as Austria and Italy.

Since the end of November 2021, the suspects have been accused of preparing to carry out actions based on their ideology, according to the office. It added that these actions include recruiting new members, recruiting new members and holding shooting lessons.

The recruitment efforts were primarily aimed at members of the military and police officers, the office said.

The office said that the plan would involve deaths and that its members considered this scenario to be a necessary intermediate step towards overarching system change.

The ideology of the group is in the same vein as the far-right Reichsbuerger movement and QAnon conspiracy theorists who share the deep conviction that Germany is ruled by a Deep State, the office said. It did not tell who the suspected group was.

Members of the Reichsbuerger Citizens of the Reich don't recognise modern-day Germany as a legitimate state, and insist that the former, larger Deutsche Reich still exists despite Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II.

The BAMAD said it worked with the prosecutors on their investigation and shared information with the federal criminal justice service and the domestic intelligence service in the run up to Wednesday's raids.

The detained suspects will appear before a judge on Wednesday and Thursday, who will issue the arrest warrants and decide on their pre-trial detention.