German spy chief under fire over migrants

Berlin: The three party leaders of Germany’s coalition government are to come together later on Tuesday to discuss the fate of the country’s domestic intelligence chief.
Hans-Georg Maassen’s (pictured) career hangs in the balance after he questioned the extent of violence against foreigners during recent protests in the eastern city of Chemnitz.
The three leaders, who are to meet in Berlin, disagree on whether Maassen should be sacked.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who leads the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU), reportedly wants him gone, as does with the leader of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), Andrea Nahles.
Yet Interior Minister and Christian Social Union (CSU) head Horst Seehofer — the one invested with the power to sack Maassen — has publicly backed the intelligence chief.
The controversy centres on protests held in Chemnitz following the fatal stabbing last month of a German citizen, allegedly by asylum seekers.
The chancellor condemned video footage of the rallies, which showed two Arab men being attacked by what appeared to be locals. She denounced the behaviour as “mob-like” and as “hunts” against migrants.
Maassen contradicted the chancellor in a September 7 interview with the Bild newspaper, saying there was “no evidence” for her statement and calling into question the video’s authenticity. He has since rowed back those comments.
The coalition leaders already held an inconclusive crisis talks on September 13, agreeing to postpone a decision on Maassen’s future.
On Monday, an unconfirmed report emerged in the Welt newspaper that Merkel had also resolved that Maassen must go.
Sources in the governing coalition said on Monday that no decision had been made on Maassen’s fate.
Merkel and Seehofer met on Tuesday ahead of the group talks for a private discussion of the Maassen affair.
The dispute comes after the coalition was pushed to the brink by a June spat about migration policy that pitted Merkel against Seehofer. This time round, both have attested the coalition will not collapse due to the disagreement.
“The situation is sensitive,” Seehofer said on Monday evening. “The process is sensible, and one has to approach it cautiously.” He added that he was very optimistic the government would make a decision because of its responsibility to hold together.
Voices from the hard-left Die Linke, the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) have all called forMaassen to go, but the CSU and far-right Alternative for Germany(AfD) have backed him.
Maassen has in the past criticised Merkel from a security perspective for her decision to allow hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers into the country from 2015.
“Anyone who dares to criticise Merkel’s illegal immigration policy is ruthlessly passed through a mangle by the political establishment,” Alice Weidel, AfD’s parliamentary leader said. — dpa