Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Merkel government ‘undecided’ over fate of spy chief

Merkel government ‘undecided’ over fate of spy chief

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and BfV President Hans-Georg Maassen (left) in Cologne in 2014. oliver berg/afp

Merkel government ‘undecided’ over fate of spy chief

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government was to decide Tuesday whether to fire the domestic spy chief as an explosive row over immigration and the far-right once more rocks her coalition.

The controversy has sparked the second major stress test for a weakened Merkel’s fourth-term government forged half a year ago between her centre-right CDU, its conservative Bavarian sister party CSU and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

The three party chiefs last week huddled to discuss the fate of Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the BfV intelligence service – but postponed the tricky issue until yesterday.

Maassen became the focus of controversy earlier this month after raising doubts about the veracity of reports about far-right hooligans and neo-Nazis randomly attacking immigrants in the eastern city of Chemnitz in late August.

Maassen has rejected accusations that he has supported AfD lawmakers with early access to unpublished data and advice on how to avoid surveillance by his BfV.

Social Democrat leader Andrea Nahles has insisted Maassen must go and SPD youth wing leader Kevin Kuehnert, 29, mockingly tweeted that he should either explain his conspiracy theory or “throw in his tin-foil hat”.

However, Maassen has received the backing of his immediate boss, the CSU’s hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has for three years been Merkel’s nemesis within the ruling grand coalition.

Less than three months on, and with that bitter dispute barely papered over, the conflict over Maassen’s fate once more highlights the deep chasms within Merkel’s coalition.

On one level, both major parties, the CDU and SPD, are distrustful partners stuck in a political marriage of convenience after the AfD, a one-time fringe party, poached millions of their voters in last year’s elections.

But the rift is deepest between Merkel and Seehofer, whose own political future hangs in the balance as his CSU braces for potentially massive losses to the AfD in Bavarian state elections next month.

Die Welt daily reported Monday that Merkel had now decided to let Maassen go, quoting unnamed coalition sources.

According to the newspaper, this could have wider political ramifications: Maassen had reportedly told a closed-door meeting of conservative lawmakers that “Horst Seehofer told me that if I fall, he falls too”.

Merkel last week said only that “the coalition will not break up” over the issue, a claim she repeated on Monday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon

  • Migrant workers set to return from Malaysia

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed on Thursday that 158 Cambodian students and migrant workers will fly home from Malaysia on Friday morning. This is the second flight to bring Cambodians home from Malaysia. A ministry notice said Malaysia Airlines Flight MH754 will