The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has been transferred from his job just weeks after he made remarks that appeared to downplay anti-migrant violence.
Hans-Georg Maassen has been embroiled in a controversy since anti-migrant protests began in the eastern German city of Chemnitz in late August. A video was uploaded on social media that appeared to show far-right protesters chasing a man while shouting xenophobic slogans.
Maassen told the Bild newspaper in September that the video might be “false information.” He also said his agency had found no evidence that foreigners were being “hunted” in the city streets. His remarks contradicted those of Prime Minister Angela Merkel, who had condemned the attacks based on the video.
Maassen’s comments caused an uproar among the members of Merkel’s coalition government, with most calling for resignation or termination.
However, the far-right Alternative for Germany party praised Maassen and used his comments to further attack Merkel’s “completely failed asylum policy.”
Merkel’s interior minister and rival, Horst Seehofer, also backed Maassen.
On Tuesday, Merkel’s government announced that Maassen would be relieved of his duties at the intelligence agency and be made deputy interior minister under Seehofer.
It is not clear who will replace Maassen as intelligence chief.