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Court allows surveillance of leftist politicians
Photo: DPA

Court allows surveillance of leftist politicians

Published: 21 Jul 2010 12:45 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Jul 2010 18:21 GMT+02:00

A German federal court on Wednesday ruled the country's domestic intelligence services can keep tabs on members the socialist Left party using publicly available information.

The decision overturns a ruling by a state court in North Rhine-Westphalia, which had said it was not appropriate for Germany's intelligence agency the Verfassungsschutz to be gathering a file on The Left's Thuringia state party leader Bodo Ramelow.

Domestic intelligence officials consider parts of The Left's agenda against Germany's constitution, and the ruling by the federal court in Leipzig is a major setback for the far-left party's efforts to stop the government surveillance of its members.

“I cannot accept that the intelligence service legitimises itself in this way,” Ramelow told daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung ahead of the proceedings.

Ramelow said that all of The Left’s federal parliamentarians are under watch by the Verfassungsschutz, calling the situation “scandalous.”

But Hans-Peter Uhl, interior policy spokesperson for the conservative Christian Democrats’ parliamentary group, said the far-left party was a risk to the state – though he made a distinction between the party its and democratically elected parliamentarians.

“Basically The Left should be observed because there's a constant flow between the party and left-wing extremists and some violent groups,” he told the paper, adding that the intelligence service should exercise caution when it came to those who legitimately held an office.

“Those are freely elected parliamentarians,” he said. “There needs to be a demarcation here.”

Meanwhile Green party leader Cem Özdemir said he supported the case by The Left, encouraging an end to the surveillance.

“I find that equating the Left with the (neo-Nazi) NPD or other extremist parties is a mistake overall,” he told daily Berliner Zeitung.

The Left is not conspiratorial, he said, explaining that its members openly engage in their activities and should also be judged as such on the political stage.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

23:15 July 21, 2010 by claudegaveau
:-) Looks like my post got taken down and the grammar mistakes were corrected.
23:34 July 21, 2010 by mikecowler
This surveylance happens in the UK too. The National Front Party which is extreme right wing and has had known thugs, and some extreme left unions...any threat to national security must be taken seriously...
08:01 July 22, 2010 by JAMessersmith
People often think of the ideological spectrum as a straight line; as if the extreme-left is on one side and the extreme-right is on the other. But it is actually more of a circle, and all extremists, whether right or left, tend to share more similarities than dissimilarities. They may fight each other violently in the streets, but they often use the same tactics against each other. In my opinion, people who haven't been brainwashed by one side or the other can perceive this irony, and generally fall under the moderate category, distrusting of both.
10:57 July 22, 2010 by Prufrock2010
George Orwell is smiling in his grave.
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