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German police raid dozens over far-right coup plot


German police arrested 25 people suspected of plotting to overthrow the state in raids across the country early Wednesday.

Authorities accused most of those arrested of being part of a “terrorist organization,” according to the public prosecutor’s statement, while the remaining three — including a Russian national — were detained on suspicion of being supporters.

“It’s suspected that an armed attack was planned against constitutional bodies,” Justice Minister Marco Buschmann tweeted.

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The raids targeted another 27 individuals on suspicion of being members or having supported the organization, but were not arrested.The raids took place in 11 of Germany’s 16 states and marked one of the largest such anti-terrorism operations ever carried out in the country, according to the German press.

A Wednesday statement from the federal public prosecutor said the members of the group, which was founded in November 2021, subscribed to a range of conspiracy theories including QAnon and the right-wing extremist Reichsbürger movement, which denies the existence of the modern German state. “The accused are united by a deep rejection of state institutions,” it said.

The group was prepared to use violence and accepted that deaths would happen, the statement added. Its central “council” was headed by an individual named as Heinrich XIII P.R., who had reached out to Russian representatives inside Germany — although the prosecutor said there were no indications so far of a positive response to his overtures. German news media identified the individual as Prince Heinrich XIII, 71, a descendant of the House of Reuss, a royal dynasty from the German state of Thuringia.

“Since November 2021, the members of the ‘Council’ have regularly met in secret to plan the intended takeover of power in Germany and the establishment of their own state structures,” the statement said. It added that they had created a structure similar to a government cabinet, with departments for justice, foreign affairs and health.

The council also had a military arm, which would have been involved in the armed takeover of the state. This body included former members of Germany’s armed forces, and recruitment efforts were targeted toward members of the military and police, the prosecutor said.

The barracks of a unit of Germany’s Special Forces Command, known as the KSK, was among the locations raided, Der Spiegel magazine reported. The German Defense Ministry disbanded one unit of the elite counterterrorism force in 2020 and announced a restructuring due to suspected extreme right-wing ties of its members.

According to Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper, one of the defendants posted on Telegram shortly before the raids that public prosecutors, judges and health authorities would “soon find themselves in the dock at Nuremberg 2.0,” in reference to the trials of Nazi war criminals held after World War II.

The suspects will appear in court on Wednesday and Thursday.