Around 3,000 police officers have carried out raids across Germany to stop an alleged plot by a far-right terrorist group to overthrow the government.
Federal prosecutors said 25 suspected members and supporters of the Reichsburger group – the so-called Reich Citizens movement – were detained during the raids in 11 of the country’s 16 states early on Wednesday.
Twenty-two German citizens were detained on suspicion of “membership in a terrorist organisation”, and three others, including a Russian citizen, are suspected of supporting the group.
The Reichsburger movement brings together several far-right groups whose aim is to get rid of the current government and replace it with their own.
According to the authorities members of the group have been preparing to “carry out actions based on their ideology” since November 2021.
Armed police are reported to have stormed up to 100 properties across Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hesse, Lower Saxony, and Thuringia, as well as in the Austrian town of Kitzbuehel and the Italian city of Perugia.
A 71-year-old, who goes by the name Prince Heinrich XIII, is believed to be central to the group’s activities and was among those arrested.
Prosecutors said the group planned to install him as Germany’s new leader, and he had contacted Russian officials with the aim of negotiating a new order in the country.
He was allegedly assisted in this by a Russian woman, Vitalia B.
“According to current investigations there is no indication however that the persons contacted responded positively to his request,” prosecutors said.
Der Spiegel reported that the barracks of Germany’s special forces unit the KSK in the southwestern town of Calw was one of the locations raided.
It has in the past been scrutinised over alleged far-right involvement by some soldiers.
A female judge – identified by prosecutors as Birgit M-W – was also detained during the raids. She is said to have links with the far-right Alternative for Germany party.
Known by its German acronym AfD, the party has increasingly come under scrutiny by German security services due to its ties with extremists.