German Chancellor Angela Merkel will oust the country’s head of intelligence, after an ongoing scandal over his response to the Chemnitz riots and his alleged ties to the far-right party Alternative for Germany prompted calls for his dismissal, according to reports.
Merkel made the decision to get rid of Hans-Georg Maaßen at an extraordinary meeting last Thursday alongside Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Social Democrat leader Andrea Nahles, Die Welt reported Monday, citing government sources.
The government declined to comment on the report, which comes ahead of another meeting on the issue scheduled for Tuesday.
Maaßen has come under fire in recent weeks for allegedly sharing confidential government reports with the AfD and advising the anti-immigration party on how to avoid being put under surveillance by his agency. He also faced heavy blowback for questioning the authenticity of video footage from the anti-immigrant riots in Chemnitz, and claiming there was “no evidence” of a “man hunt” against foreigners.
Maaßen has admitted meeting with members of the party, but denied he provided advice.
The fate of the intelligence chief has divided political opinion. While Seehofer, who leads Bavaria’s Christian Social Union — which is gearing up for an election next month — previously voiced confidence in Maaßen’s leadership and claimed he did not “see any reason for staff changes,” the Social Democrats and the Greens have been vocal in calling for his dismissal.