The former German spy chief was retired in the dispute over the speech

The former German spy chief was retired in the dispute over the speech

The former head of the domestic intelligence service was retired prematurely after sharply criticizing Angela Merkel's government in a farewell speech to colleagues in Warsaw.

Hans-Georg Maassen was to take on a new job as adviser to the Interior Minister Horst Seehofer when he reached an agreement in September, when he resigned as head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). The move followed a dispute over Mr. Maassen's stance on right-wing violence in the city of Chemnitz this summer.

On Monday, Mr Seehofer said he instead retired Mr Maassen following his speech in October at the Warsaw Club de Berne, a forum for the exchange of intelligence services for EU, Norwegian and Swiss espionage agencies.

In this context, Maassen blamed his removal as spy chief for "radical left-wing forces" in the Social Democratic Party, a young partner in the coalition of Mrs. Merkel, and insulted the government's "idealistic, naive and leftist" immigration policy.

In a statement on Monday, Mr. Seehofer said that Mr. Maassen's speech contained "unacceptable phrasing" and added, "Against this background he and I. … I can no longer work together on the basis of mutual trust in any capacity." He admitted to be "rather personally disappointed" with the intelligence chief.

The last turn in the Maassen affair is a blow to Mr. Seehofer, who had originally shielded him from attacks by the SPD and tried to keep him in the post.

Less than a month after the elections in Bavaria, the party of Mr. Seehofer, the Christian Social Union, lost its absolute majority and shrank its share of votes by 10 percentage points to 37 percent. Since then he has repeatedly made demands for his resignation.

The Maassen affair exploded in the summer after an incident in the eastern city of Chemnitz, when a German man was stabbed to death by suspected asylum seekers. The death triggered angry demonstrations of local rights, some of which greeted Hitler and attacked foreigners.

A few days after the riots, Mr Maassen expressed doubt in a newspaper interview on the authenticity of videos in which locals chased dark-skinned people through the streets of Chemnitz.

The interview triggered an angry reaction in Berlin, the SPD demanded his resignation. In the end, the German coalition partners – the SPD, the CDU of Mrs Merkel and the CSU – agreed to remove Mr Maassen as secret service chief and appoint him special advisor to Mr Seehofer.

However, his position became untenable after the speech in Warsaw, in which he returned to the theme of the Chemnitz videos. "The fact that politicians and the media invent such" pogroms "or at least distribute this false information without first checking it was, for me, a new quality of false news in Germany," he said in a text of the Süddeutsche Zeitung speech.

He said the scandal over his interview was "a welcome opportunity for radical left-wing forces in the SPD who were against a coalition with the CDU / CSU from the start to provoke a split in that governing coalition."

"Known as a critic of idealist, naïve, and left-wing immigration and security policies, it also offered my political opponents and some media the opportunity to get rid of my job," he added. He also said he is considering a career in politics now.

Mr Seehofer said that it was "unacceptable" to speak of radical left-wing forces in the SPD and to call the German immigration policy "leftist".

He said it was always his policy to defend the people working in the ministries he led. "But when a political issue that has been closed is then pursued and formulations are used that are unacceptable, I have to act," he said.

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