An investigation into a German-Turk lawyer’s complaint to police has revealed that death threats she had received were linked to the computer of a police officer who was part of a chat group sharing neo-Nazi content.
Death threats linked to police computers and the discovery of far-right chat groups in police departments across Germany have fed concerns about far-right infiltration, the New York Times has reported.
A German defence lawyer of Turkish descent’s police complaint about death threats including her private information led to discovery that the neo-Nazi who sent the threats was in the German police.
Investigators found lawyer Seda Basay-Yildiz’s information, home address, and the names and birthdays of her family, that are not public due to previous threats, had been called up on a police computer in Frankfurt’s first precinct.
The investigators also discovered that the officer retrieved Basay-Yildiz’s information is a part of a WhatsApp group of a dozen other police officers sharing far-right and racist content.
However, it’s not the first incident indicating extensive penetration of far-right networks to German security.
In September, 29 police officers who shared Hitler and neo-Nazi images encouraging violence in at least five chat groups that a unit’s superior was also part of were suspended in Western Germany.
The images included a refugee in a gas chamber and a shooting of a Black man.
In October, exposed excerpts from the internal chat of a service group of the Berlin Police showed that 25 police officers were sharing content Muslims are compared to monkeys, refugees are equated with rapists or rats and openly sharing fantasies of violence.
In November, a German court upheld the decision to expel a police cadet in April last year due to for using Nazi-related terminology during a class.
The security agencies of the country’s 16 states, which have a combined 276,000 employees, investigated 319 suspected cases of internal far-right extremism during a time period of over three years, from January 2017-March 2020, according to Associated Press.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, Germany’s top security official in October, said that there is no evidence of structural far-right extremism in the country’s security forces after a review.
Seehofer previously rejected calls for an investigation into the extent of racial profiling by the police.
That’s a view that Herbert Reul, the interior minister of North-Rhine Westphalia disagrees.
“I always hoped that it was individual cases, but there are too many of them now,” Reul told the New York Times.
“We have a problem with far-right extremism,” he said. “I don’t know how far it reaches inside the institutions. But if we don’t deal with it, it will grow.”
The police officer who logged into the computer in Frankfurt’s first precinct that called on the German-Turk lawyer Basak-Yildiz's private information has been suspended.
The investigation later led to suspension of five more officers, then 38 later in the year.
But Basak-Yildiz told NYT that she’s not reassured yet.
“If you have 38 people, you have a structural problem,” she said. “And if you don’t realise this, nothing will change.”