German Far-Right Politician Faces Pressure Over Aide's Alleged Spying for China

German far-right politician's aide accused of spying for China, sparking outrage and calls for resignation, as concerns grow over foreign interference in European politics.

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Wojciech Zylm
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German Far-Right Politician Faces Pressure Over Aide's Alleged Spying for China

German Far-Right Politician Faces Pressure Over Aide's Alleged Spying for China

Maximilian Krah, a top politician from Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, is facing mounting pressure and calls to resign following the arrest of his close aide on suspicion of spying for China. "If the accusations are substantiated, it would result in an immediate termination of Jian G.'s employment," Krah stated, referring to his assistant who was taken into custody in Dresden.

German prosecutors allege that Jian G., a 43-year-old German national, has been working for a Chinese intelligence service since 2019. He is accused of repeatedly passing on information about negotiations and decisions in the European Parliament to his Chinese handlers. Additionally, Jian G. is suspected of spying on Chinese opposition figures residing in Germany.

The revelations have sparked outrage among European lawmakers, with many rushing to denounce the emerging scandal dubbed 'Chinagate.' European Parliament President Roberta Metsola has expressed willingness to waive the immunity of those under suspicion to facilitate the investigation. "If the espionage accusations are confirmed, it would be an attack on European democracy from within," warned German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

Krah, who is the AfD's lead candidate for the upcoming European elections, has been a controversial figure known for his pro-China remarks and regular appearances in Chinese state media. Despite the accusations against his aide, Krah has refused to step down from his position. The AfD party has summoned Krah to Berlin and promised a statement on the matter.

The spying scandal comes on the heels of separate accusations that Krah and another top AfD candidate accepted money from a pro-Russia interference network to spread Kremlin propaganda. The AfD, an anti-Islam and anti-immigration party, has been accused of having a 'contempt for democracy and the rule of law' that makes its politicians susceptible to influence from China and Russia.

Why this matters: The arrest of Krah's aide highlights the growing concerns about foreign interference and disinformation campaigns targeting European politics. With far-right nationalist parties expected to make significant gains in the upcoming European Parliament elections, the accusations underscore the potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited by foreign actors seeking to undermine democratic processes.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has dismissed the reports of Chinese espionage in Europe as "hype" intended to "discredit and suppress China." However, German officials have described the spying accusations as "extremely serious" and warned of an increase in Chinese intelligence operations focused on political espionage and gathering sensitive information for economic or military purposes. As the investigation unfolds, the scandal has the potential to further erode support for the AfD and raise questions about the integrity of the upcoming European elections.

Key Takeaways

  • Top AfD politician's aide arrested on suspicion of spying for China.
  • Aide accused of passing EU Parliament info to Chinese intelligence since 2019.
  • Scandal sparks outrage, calls to waive immunity for investigation.
  • AfD leader Krah known for pro-China views, faces separate bribery allegations.
  • Scandal highlights concerns about foreign interference in European elections.