State police in Hesse are investigating a group of five Frankfurt police officers accused of being part of a far-right network that sent a letter threatening to kill the two-year-old daughter of a lawyer who has represented Islamic extremists, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
The letter, faxed to Frankfurt defense attorney Seda Basay-Yildiz in August, called her a “rotten Turkish sow” and said “You won’t destroy Germany.”
“In retaliation … we will slaughter your daughter," it said, mentioning the daughter’s name and Basay-Yildiz’ home address, which were not publicly known. The fax was signed "NSU 2.0," referring to the National Socialist Underground, a neo-Nazi terror group that slaughtered 10 people, most of them Turkish immigrants, between 2000 and 2007.
Basay-Yildiz was in the spotlight this summer for defending Sami A., a man who was once a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, after Germany illegally deported him. But she has also represented relatives of one of the victims in the trial of NSU member Beate Zschäpe. She told the Frankfurter Neue Presse on Saturday that she was accustomed to abuse in her job but that the threat against her daughter went too far.
Right-wing chat group
Basay-Yildiz went to the police in August, triggering a months-long investigation that uncovered a network of at least five police officers – four men and a woman – who had been sharing racist messages, images of Hitler and swastikas in a WhatsApp chat group. Those five police officers have been suspended.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that when investigators began probing the origin of the fax sent to Basay-Yildiz, they discovered that her private address had recently been called up on the police computer system without an official reason. They traced the inquiry to the computer of a policewoman in a Frankfurt police station. When they seized the officer’s computer and mobile phone, they discovered the chat group. Investigators say she could have sent the threatening fax herself or given the information to someone who did.
The case is a major embarrassment to the Frankfurt police and reignited fears that far-right sympathizers have compromised German law enforcement.
Those concerns last surfaced after the Chemnitz riots in August, when it emerged that a prison officer had shown members far-right groups an arrest warrant containing personal details of two migrants accused of stabbing a man to death in the city.
The Chemnitz riots also led to the removal of domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen, who had claimed there was “no credible evidence” of far-right attacks on migrants during the riots despite video evidence and witness testimony to the contrary.
German ministers weigh in
Officials from Hesse’s police told the Frankfurter Allgemeine the threat against Basay-Yildiz was “a highly sensitive case” with possibly a large scope because it wasn’t clear how many people were involved.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said: “Without question police officers must support our liberal democratic order, and there must not be the slightest doubt about police officers representing that stance.”
Justice Minister Katarina Barley demanded a thorough investigation. “The suspicion that there could be far-right structures here is frightening,” she said.
Parliament member Martin Rabanus of the Social Democratic Party said the reports were alarming but added, “The state security system appears to be doing its job properly. I have no reason to believe there is a hard structural problem here.”
David Crossland is an editor for Handelsblatt Today.