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5 German police officers investigated over ‘hateful’ content in group chat as authorities ramp up efforts to weed out extremists

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Five officers are being investigated for sharing hateful content in a group chat, including banned symbols, German police have said. Authorities have increased efforts to weed out far-right views from security forces.

The officers and one of their family members are being investigated for possible sedition, police in Ludwigsburg, a city in Germany’s southern Baden-Wurttemberg state, announced on Thursday.

After searching the officers’ homes and belongings, investigators seized smartphones and other electronic devices from the suspects, four of whom are attached to police headquarters in the state’s capital, Stuttgart. The fifth person involved serves in the technology and logistics unit.

One suspect is said to have saved photos and videos with “inflammatory content” on his smartphone and shared them in a group chat with colleagues. A “double-digit number” of pieces of hateful content were exchanged in such a manner, some of which included symbols of banned organizations, police said.

Apart from the five suspects, three other officers were disciplined as part of the case. Overall, eight officers were suspended pending an investigation.

In a similar case, 29 police officers in the North Rhine-Westphalia state were suspended last year after it was discovered that they had shared far-right propaganda in WhatsApp groups.

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Germany has stepped up efforts to detect and weed out those with far-right views from its security forces in recent years. According to a report last year by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, there were more than 1,400 suspected cases of right-wing extremism in the police, army and other security forces between 2017 and 2020.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said at the time that the numbers represented only a tiny minority of servicemen, while “over 99%” of security officials respected the law.

Seehofer said this month that attacks by right-wing extremists were “the biggest threat” to Germany.

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