German police launch operation after death threats to pro-vaccine politician
Berlin (AFP) – German police and special forces on Wednesday launched an operation in the eastern city of Dresden after death threats were issued against a top politician who backed coronavirus vaccines, authorities said.
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The security forces in Saxony acted following the threats from an anti-vaccine group against state premier Michael Kretschmer.
"Statements from certain members of the group suggested they might have real weapons," police said in a statement.
An investigation was opened after journalists from public broadcaster ZDF infiltrated an encrypted Telegram chat and reported on December 7 that there were death threats allegedly issued against Kretschmer.
ZDF revealed the contents of messages allegedly involving a hundred members of the chat group "linked by their opposition to vaccines, to the state and the current health policies", the prosecutor said.
Audio messages called for opposing "if necessary with weapons" the measures in place, targeting politicians -- Kretschmer in particular.
Authorities suspected "the preparation of a violent crime that threatens the state", Saxony police said on Twitter.
A large movement has emerged in Germany against health restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is particularly strong in Saxony, in former East Germany, one of the regions worst hit by the resurgent coronavirus and where the vaccination rate is lower than the national average.
© 2021 AFP