September 7, 2018 / 8:00 AM / 2 months ago

Germany's top spy not convinced migrants were hunted down in Chemnitz

BERLIN, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Germany’s domestic spy chief told a newspaper he was not convinced that migrants were hunted down in the eastern city of Chemnitz after the fatal stabbing of a German man, and suggested a video showing violence may be “targeted misinformation”.

Germany has been shaken by the most violent right-wing protests in decades after the German man was killed in Chemnitz in the state of Saxony on Aug. 26, for which two immigrants were arrested.

Michael Kretschmer, Saxony’s conservative state premier, had said on Wednesday that migrants had not been hounded but Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuffed his remark, saying pictures had shown “hate and ... the persecution of innocent people”.

Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the BfV domestic intelligence agency, appeared to undermine Merkel by telling Bild newspaper’s Friday edition: “I share the scepticism about media reports on right-wing extremists hunting down people in Chemnitz.”

He added: “The domestic intelligence agency has no reliable information about such hunts taking place.”

Maassen said there was no evidence that a video circulating on the internet was authentic, adding: “Based on my cautious assessment, there are good reasons to believe that it amounts to intentional misinformation, possibly to divert the public’s attention from the murder in Chemnitz.”

Merkel, who has said images from Chemnitz “very clearly” showed hate, on Thursday accused the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) of using violent protests over the stabbing blamed on migrants to stir up ethnic tension.

Thomas Oppermann, a senior member of the Social Democrats (SPD) - junior partner in Merkel’s ruling coalition - criticised Maassen, telling German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk: “The president of the domestic intelligence agency is causing confusion at the moment.”

Oppermann said there was proof the incident had taken place, adding that a group of Social Democrats had been attacked by hooligans. (Reporting by Michelle Martin Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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