October 12, 2018 / 12:08 PM / 5 days ago

German 'snitch on your teacher' website knocked offline

BERLIN (Reuters) - A far-right German politician’s website that let pupils denounce teachers for being too political was knocked offline within hours of its launch by what its creator said was a hacker attack.

On Friday, the website, launched by Stefan Raepple, who represents the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the regional parliament of Baden-Wuerttemberg, was showing a message promising to return shortly. “Our site was hit by a hacker attack,” the message read.

Justice Minister Katarina Barley labeled the denunciation tactic a “tool of dictators” familiar from Communist East Germany and the Nazi era. AfD deputy leader Georg Pazderski defended the site as necessary because pupils in many schools were exposed to a “one-sided left-green world view”.

Reuters was unable to confirm independently that the site had been hacked, and if so, by whom.

One of Germany’s most senior spies has promised a decision by the end of the year on whether the AfD should be monitored for unconstitutional activities.

The party - mindful of the penalties including a full ban it could face if it were found to be unconstitutional or anti-democratic by the domestic security services, has set up a working group to try to ward off the threat of observation.

The site mirrors tactics used by other far-right parties to compete for public attention.

In the Netherlands, anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders invited people to denounce “nuisance” immigrants in their neighborhoods. The site he created, though short lived, dramatically raised his domestic and international profile.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Janet Lawrence and David Stamp

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