Reichsbürger movement: German police arrest 25 accused of plotting to overthrow state in armed far-right coup

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Federal prosecutors said 25 suspected members and supporters of “terrorist organisation”, the Reichsburger group, have been detained

German police have arrested 25 suspected far-right extremists who allegedly sought to overthrow the state in an armed coup.

Prosecutors said 22 German citizens were detained on suspicion of “membership in a terrorist organisation” and three other people, including a Russian citizen, are suspected of supporting the organisation.

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Thousands of police officers have carried out raids across much of Germany against suspected far-right extremists who allegedly planned an armed coup. Federal prosecutors said some 3,000 officers conducted searches at 130 sites in 11 of Germany’s 16 states against adherents of the so-called Reich Citizens movement, also called the Reichsburger group.

Some members of the grouping reject Germany’s post-war constitution and have called for the overthrow of the government.

Justice minister Marco Buschmann described the raids as an “anti-terrorism operation” and said the suspects may have planned an armed attack on institutions of the state.

AFP via Getty Images

Who are the suspects?

Prosecutors identified the suspected ringleaders as Heinrich XIII P R and Ruediger v P, in line with German privacy rules.

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Der Spiegel, German news website, reported that the former was a well-known 71-year-old member of a minor German noble family, while the latter was a 69-year-old former paratrooper.

Federal prosecutors said Heinrich XIII P R, whom the group planned to install as Germany’s new leader, had contacted Russian officials with the aim of negotiating a new order in the country once the German government was overthrown. He was allegedly assisted in this by a Russian woman, known as Vitalia B.

Prosecutors said: “According to current investigations there is no indication however that the persons contacted responded positively to his request.”

A further person detained by police on Wednesday (7 December) was identified by prosecutors as Birgit M-W. Der Spiegel reported that the woman is a judge and former legislator with the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

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The party, known by its German acronym AfD, has increasingly come under scrutiny by German security services due to its ties with extremists.

What have the federal prosecutors said?

Along with detentions in Germany, prosecutors said that one person was detained in the Austrian town of Kitzbuehel and another in the Italian city of Perugia.

Prosecutors said those detained are alleged to last year have formed a “terrorist organisation with the goal of overturning the existing state order in Germany and replace it with their own form of state, which was already in the course of being founded”.

The suspects were aware that their aim could only be achieved by military means and with force, prosecutors said.

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They are alleged to have believed in a “conglomerate of conspiracy theories consisting of narratives from the so-called Reich Citizens as well as QAnon ideology”, according to a statement by prosecutors.

They added that members of the group also believe Germany is ruled by a so-called “deep state” - with this claim about the United States also previously made by the former president Donald Trump.

Which locations were searched?

Der Spiegel reported that locations searched include the barracks of Germany’s special forces unit KSK in the south-western town of Calw.

The unit has in the past been scrutinised over alleged far-right involvement by some soldiers, but federal prosecutors declined to confirm or deny that the barracks were searched.

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