UPDATES WITH COMMENTS BY INTERIOR MINISTER, REVISES HEADLINE, EDITS THROUGHOUT
BERLIN (AA) - German police conducted raids across the country on Wednesday to arrest right-wing extremists involved in plots to overthrow the democratic system.
Raids in eight federal states targeted five members of the far-right Reichsburger (Reich Citizens) movement and more than a dozen of other right-wing extremists, according to the Federal Prosecutor’s office.
In the southwestern city of Reutlingen, a police officer was slightly injured after a suspect fired shots at officers as they arrived to search his home, public broadcaster ARD reported. The suspect was later arrested.
The raids were conducted in connection with an investigation into last year’s coup plot, and several active soldiers and police officers were among the suspects, according to the report.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the latest developments have shown that the far-right Reichsburger movement poses a serious threat to democracy.
“We will continue our tough approach until we will completely uncover and dismantle these structures. No one in this extremist circle should believe that they are safe,” she said.
Faeser said followers of the Reichsburger movement were not “harmless lunatics” but dangerous extremists who possess many weapons, and make plans to overthrow the democratic system.
“We must be determined to disarm these extremists. To do that, we need to tighten our gun laws,” she said.
- Suspects have ties to Reuss group
“The names of the suspects arrested on Wednesday were recently uncovered by the police during investigations into the far-right “Reuss group” which authorities believe planned a coup in Germany.
Key members of the group were arrested last December over plans to storm the German parliament, cause civil war-like conditions in the country, and overthrow the government.
Heinrich Reuss – a descendant of a noble family who is also known as Prince Heinrich XIII – was the leading figure in the group.
The 72-year-old was known for his sympathy toward the Reichsburger movement and promoted far-right and conspiratorial ideas.
A former lawmaker of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), several ex-military officers, and an active soldier from the Special Forces Command were among the 23 suspects detained last year.
Followers of the Reichsburger movement reject the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany and believe that the country is governed by members of a so-called “deep state.”
Many refuse to pay taxes and they are often in conflict with authorities.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency BfV estimates that the scene has around 23,000 followers.