By Oliver Towfigh Nia
BERLIN (AA) - A spokesman for the German Defense Ministry reported Wednesday a "significant increase" in the number of suspected far-right cases in the military.
David Helmbold told reporters in Berlin the number of suspected right-wing extremism rose from 363 in 2019 to 477 cases last year, according to a report by the Military Counter-Intelligence Service (MAD).
The MAD Report 2020, presented to parliament on Tuesday, said the most common reason for triggering investigations are “statements that are hostile to foreigners or xenophobia” on social media.
It has been shown that the "threat to the fundamental values of our open society from extremism has unfortunately perpetuated at a comparatively high level," MAD President Martina Rosenberg wrote in the report.
Although the Defense Ministry pledged to pursue a "no-tolerance" policy when it comes to fighting right-wing extremism in the military, there have been a series of far-right incidents in recent years.
Early this month, it launched an investigation into a series of suspected far-right incidents and sexual violence in a unit of the honor guard.
In January 2020, military intelligence reported there were almost 600 suspected right-wing extremists in the army. They said the elite anti-terror unit, KSK, was seen as a major problem, with 20 members suspected of being far-right supporters.
In 2017, inspections were conducted at all military bases after Nazi-era memorabilia was discovered at two. Many of those accused of far-right ties are believed to be sympathetic to the anti-migrant opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD).