BERLIN, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Police in eight German states raided the homes of 23 suspects on Thursday as part of a lengthy probe into the illegal sale of right-wing extremist literature and audio material, the Federal Crime Office (BKA) said.
A further 70 suspects had been identified in the investigation, which began in August 2006 after the German unit of U.S. online auction company eBay Inc (EBAY.O) reported the sale via the Internet of far-right material, the BKA said.
Twenty-four computers, around 50 memory devices and some 3,500 right-wing extremist CDs and LPs had been seized in Thursday’s raids, it added.
“The measures are a continuation of ... the fight against right-wing extremism on the Internet,” the BKA said. “They show that the Internet is not a law-free zone and that online auctions are also checked from incriminating content.”
German laws ban Nazi emblems like the swastika but grant public funds to the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), whose followers implicitly back racist and some Nazi ideas.
The German government follows a so-called “four-pillar” strategy against right-wing extremism that was agreed in 2002. It seeks to educate on human rights, strengthen civil society and promote civil courage, help integrate foreigners and target suspected far-right extremists. (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Mary Gabriel)