If the Der Spiegel Magazine report is confirmed, it would be a setback for the AfD ahead of the September elections.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency will step up surveillance of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) because it suspects it espouses “extremist” positions that threaten democracy, Der Spiegel magazine reported .
A spokeswoman for intelligence agency BfV declined to comment on the unfunded report released on Wednesday.
If confirmed, it would be a setback for the party ahead of an election in September in which polls predict a loss of support in the face of its opposition to lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic.
A decision by the intelligence agency to monitor the party nationally would involve monitoring all of its leaders and lawmakers in the lower house of the Bundestag.
“We have not been informed of any decision to increase surveillance activities against us,” AfD lawmaker Stefan Keuter said. “But if that is the case, we will fight in court.”
The AfD entered parliament four years ago, drawing angry voters over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to welcome more than one million refugees and migrants; it also has legislators in the 16 German regional assemblies.
He has been ostracized by other parties, who say his rhetoric contributes to an atmosphere of hatred that encourages political violence.
AfD co-leader Joerg Meuthen wants to purge the party of members suspected of sympathizing with far-right extremist groups and make it more palatable to a wider section of the German public.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany welcomed the news.
“The destructive policies of the AfD undermine our democratic institutions and discredit democracy among the citizens,” he said in a statement. “The national intelligence agency has taken the right and necessary step.”
National spies began a review of the AfD’s political platform and speeches in 2019 with the aim of determining whether more surveillance activities, such as exploiting the party’s communications and examining its funding, were required.
The AfD sued the government over its statement, and a court two years ago ruled out the BfV from publicly naming the party as a “case to be investigated” because it puts it at a disadvantage in the election.
However, he rejected the AfD’s petition to prevent the BfV from conducting an intelligence review of the largest opposition party in the national parliament. The case is still being debated in the courts.
The BfV told the administrative court in the western city of Cologne last month that it would not follow AfD lawmakers in national, regional and EU parliaments while the case was heard.