Dec 7, 2022 - World

Germany arrests 25 people over far-right coup plot

Police officers work during a raid in Berlin, Germany, on December 07,

Police officers work during a raid in Berlin, Germany, on December 7. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

German authorities on Wednesday arrested 25 members of a far-right group that prosecutors said was plotting to violently overthrow the government.

Driving the news: Authorities believe that 22 of the individuals arrested are suspected members of a "terrorist organization," while the remaining three are suspected supporters, according to a press release from Germany's federal public prosecutor.

  • One of the suspected supporters arrested was a Russian national.
  • The arrests were made after a series of raids across 11 of Germany's 16 states, as well as in Austria and Italy.
  • Search raids were also conducted against 27 suspected members or supporters of the organization, though these individuals were not arrested.

The big picture: The federal public prosecutor said the group was founded in November 2021 at the latest and subscribed to various conspiracy theories, including QAnon and the far-right extremist Reichsbürger movement, which denies the legitimacy of the modern German state, per the Washington Post.

  • The group has been planning to overthrow the current government — which it believes is controlled by the so-called "deep state" — and install a new one, headed by an individual identified as Heinrich XIII PR, the press release stated.
  • German media identified the man as Prince Heinrich XIII, 71, a member of the royal House of Reuss, per the Post.
  • Heinrich XIII PR had already contacted Russian representatives inside Germany, though investigations so far didn't indicate that he'd received any response, the federal prosecutor said.

Since November 2021, the group had taken concrete steps to carry out their plan, including discussing the administrative structure of the new state, recruiting new members, gathering equipment and carrying out shooting lessons, the federal prosecutor said.

  • The group was prepared to use violence to achieve their goals and accepted that the plan would involve deaths — they considered this scenario a "necessary intermediate step" to achieving the systemic change they sought.
  • In October, the group scouted military barracks in several German states "for their suitability for housing their own troops after the overthrow." Some members of the group are also believed to have plotted an armed attack on the German parliament.

What they're saying: "The accused are united by a deep rejection of the state institutions," the press release stated.

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