BERLIN: The German government said it was relieving controversial spy chief Hans-Georg Maassen of his duties and moving him to a different post, defusing a row that had rocked Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fragile coalition.
“Mr Maassen will become state secretary in the interior ministry,” Merkel and the leaders of her coalition partners announced in a statement following crisis talks over Maassen’s handling of recent far-right protests.
Senior lawmaker Eva Hoegl told lawmakers that the security services must enjoy “our unrestricted confidence, and if there is even the slightest doubt about that, there is a problem — so we should act differently here.” She and others said Maassen had failed to restore confidence in his leadership.
The party’s general secretary, Lars Klingbeil, later increased the pressure, writing on Twitter that “for the Social Democrats’ leadership, it is completely clear that Maassen must go. Merkel must act now.” The head of the Social Democrats’ youth wing, who fought unsuccessfully earlier this year to keep the party out of Merkel’s government, suggested that it should quit the coalition if Maassen is kept on.