Germany’s domestic intelligence chief is to leave his job to take up a role in the interior ministry after he provoked controversy by questioning the authenticity of video footage showing far-right protesters in Chemnitz chasing down migrants, according to The Guardian.
Hans-Georg Maaßen, the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), had faced calls for his resignation since he made the comments to the tabloid Bild earlier this month but the coalition parties were divided on his fate.
Following a meeting between the party leaders on Tuesday afternoon, it was announced he would become a senior official in the interior ministry. His successor at the BfV has not yet been announced.
Maaßen came under fire after he contradicted a description by the chancellor, Angela Merkel’, of the far-right protest in the eastern town. Merkel’s spokesman referred to the scenes as a Hetzjagd, or hounding of migrants. Maaßen said he had seen no evidence such events had taken place.
Merkel’s rebellious interior minister, Horst Seehofer, who heads the Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CSU), was quick to throw his weight behind Maaßen, while her junior partner, the leftwing Social Democrats (SPD), repeatedly said he must go.
Speculation is rife about the political fallout, including the outlook for Seehofer. Both Merkel and Seehofer have separately insisted that the coalition government would not collapse over the Maaßen issue.