Cologne's Administrative Court on Friday temporarily banned German secret services from surveilling the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
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The decision came two days after the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) classified the political organization as a "case under investigation", allowing authorities to conduct ongoing surveillance of the entire party structure.
The Cologne court's decision, which can be appealed to the Higher Court of Munster, came in response to a complaint by the AfD against the BfV.
The definition of the AfD as a "suspicious" case, which was unprecedented in the country, would have allowed the authorities to exert pressure on this nationalist and xenophobic group. Among other things, intelligence agencies could have intercepted telephone conversations and funded informants.
The German secret services based their decision on a 1,001-page report that includes evidence of alleged AfD violations against the democratic order compiled by jurists and experts since 2019.
That evidence includes, for example, hundreds of public statements by militant AfD, links to other far-right organizations, and indications of a growing disposition toward violent actions.
Germany will hold six regional elections in the coming months and a general election on September 26. The electoral consequences of these developments are difficult to foresee given that the AfD is currently the third-largest party in the German lower house (Bundestag).
However, this far-right grouping is experiencing serious difficulties in defining its political proposal due to a long-standing internal dispute between a pragmatic sector and a more radical branch.