German police arrest 22 in neo-Nazi internet raid

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police said on Wednesday they had arrested 22 people suspected of spreading neo-Nazi ideology in a major swoop against far-right internet radio station Widerstand-Radio (Resistance Radio).

In an operation involving some 270 officers, police raided 22 premises across 10 of Germany’s 16 states, confiscating numerous computers and telephones, the Federal Crime Office (BKA) said in a statement.

The station could be heard worldwide around the clock, and operated from a server based in the United States, the BKA said. Listeners to the site would register via a false name and address in the western German city of Dortmund, it added.

“(The) investigations are a strong hint to people running other extreme-right internet radio stations that dissemination of songs with extreme-right wing and xenophobic lyrics, even on the internet, will be pursued,” said BKA head Joerg Ziercke.

A further person, who was not arrested on Wednesday, brought the number of suspects to 23, a BKA spokeswoman said. Aged between 20 and 37, the suspects were all German, she added.

State prosecutors in the western city of Koblenz are investigating the 23 on suspicion of forming a criminal organization, inciting racial hatred and other crimes, the BKA said.

The website of the radio station had apparently had around 135,000 hits since last year, Ziercke said.

In October, the BKA said the number of people in Germany with the potential to carry out far-right violence had almost doubled since the 1990s to around 9,000 in 2009.

Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Dave Graham; editing by Philippa Fletcher