German defence ministry investigating employee over suspected far-right links

FILE PHOTO: The main entrance of the German Defence Ministry is pictured in Berlin, Germany, March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's defence ministry is investigating an employee over suspected far-right links, a spokesman said on Wednesday, following a report in Spiegel magazine that the military intelligence service had warned it about one of its workers.

"We are talking about a suspected case of far-right extremism. The person is a civilian employee," a spokesman for the defence ministry told reporters in Berlin.

Spiegel said the employee had access to sensitive information and worked in the planning and steering of the German military's foreign missions as well as overseeing special forces operations.

It added the civil servant was immediately barred from all internal defence ministry systems.

Earlier the ministry said on Twitter "current investigations" showed control mechanisms were effective.

"There is no space for extremism in the Bundeswehr. We have made this clear time and again, and we will continue to crack down rigorously on any such activities," it added.

The German military has been plagued by a series of far-right incidents in the past years.

The most prominent case prompted Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to disband an entire company of the elite special forces unit KSK in 2020 after police seized weapons and ammunition during a raid on the property of a KSK soldier in the eastern state of Saxony.

Established in 1996, the KSK's reputation was tarnished in 2003 when its then-commander was forced into early retirement after he was accused of being close to far-right extremists - links that have continued to dog the unit's reputation.

In May, a young army officer went on trial in Frankfurt, accused of planning to attack one or more politicians while posing as a Syrian asylum seeker to try to whip up anger against migrants.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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