Anti-lockdown radicals within the so-called Querdenken (Lateral Thinking) movement are to be monitored by the Federal German Domestic intelligence Services, the Interior Ministry said in Berlin on Wednesday.
The decision allows the Agency for the Protection of the Constitution, as the domestic intelligence agency is known to collect information on persons identified as posing a risk.
The agency’s branch in the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has been monitoring Querdenken activists since December, and federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer indicated earlier in April that he anticipated the decision by the federal agency.
The agency said it feared that the conspiracy theories that had become widespread during protests against the measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic could persist after the pandemic ends.
The head of the agency, Thomas Haldenwang, expressed the hope at the end of 2020 that Querdenken and its conspiracy theorists would become irrelevant once the threat from the virus had passed.
He compared it with the anti-immigrant Pegida movement that arose after a large influx in the summer of 2015, only to decline as migrant figures fell.
In making the announcement, the Interior Ministry said it had created a new category, as Querdenken did not fit previous categories of right-wing, left-wing or Islamist extremism.
The new category is to be termed “constitutional protection-related delegitimisation of the state.’’
It will allow systematic monitoring and the confidential acquisition of information of persons under strict conditions.
Monitoring of data, such as phone calls, will however, require additional permission. (Dpa/NAN)