Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"Day X" is Here: As Far Right Rises, a Battle Over Security Agencies Grows

Austria fascism accountability Nazi politics security intelligence
Austria’s deputy chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache, at a rally in Vienna last
month. He is the leader of the far-right Freedom Party and a onetime neo-Nazi.
VIENNA — As well as anyone, Sybille Geissler knows the threats from Austria’s far-right extremists, who in recent weeks have likened migrants to rats and blithely defended campaign material that evokes Nazi propaganda.

For over 12 years, she has led the anti-extremism unit of the domestic intelligence service, and recently testified in a parliamentary inquiry into whether the far right was trying to undermine her agency.

Her biggest challenge these days, her testimony suggests, is that the far right is part of her own government.

Shortly after the far-right Freedom Party joined the government 17 months ago, taking over the powerful Interior Ministry, the ministry’s top official asked Ms. Geissler and her boss to turn over the names of informants who had infiltrated the far-right scene.

They refused. Just weeks later, armed police burst into her office and carted away years’ worth of domestic files as well as intelligence from allied nations.

The consequences continue to reverberate through the country’s politics and beyond, and have made Austria an important test of what happens when the far right moves from the political fringe to the halls of power.  (more...)


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