After BSI President Arne Schönbohm was dismissed by Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD), the opposition is pushing for the affair to be clarified. Faeser stayed away from two special meetings of the Bundestag’s Interior Committee and the Secret Service Control Board scheduled for Tuesday, citing illness, and sent her state secretary. The Interior Minister is the SPD’s top candidate for the state elections in Hesse on October 8th and opened the hot campaign phase at the weekend.
Apparently the question should also be whether Faeser hired the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution to target Schönbohm and whether that was legal. Apparently, the officials in the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) should specifically look for evidence that would justify the dismissal of the BSI President, and also rely on subordinate authorities such as the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).
Faeser “visibly dissatisfied”
The minister was “visibly dissatisfied” with the results of the preliminary investigation, a ministry official noted, according to a BMI paper from March published by the “Bild” newspaper on Tuesday. The minister was told that “there was simply no more”. Faeser had instructed her officials to ask the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution “again” and to collect all secret documents.
Last week, Focus had already reported, referring to notes from the BMI, that Faeser had “instrumentalized” the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in order to look for “ammunition for the expulsion” of Schönbohm. People around Schönbohm were also monitored. These measures were criticized as “totally excessive” by a high-ranking official in the BMI. It had previously become known that German secret services were investigating the environment of a company that was a member of an association co-founded by Schönbohm.
The BMI emphasizes that there were no intelligence activities against Schönbohm. That’s not enough for the Union faction. “The accusation against Ms. Faeser that she had exploited the domestic intelligence service against an official she disliked is serious and could not be dispelled in today’s special session,” said the domestic policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Alexander Throm, on Tuesday after the meeting. The State Secretary was “unable to refute the allegations against the Federal Minister of the Interior.”
Böhmermann triggers a state affair
Schönbohm came under pressure after a broadcast by the satirical magazine “ZDF Magazin Royale”, in which moderator Jan Böhmermann tried to establish a current connection between the BSI President, the “Cyber Security Council Germany” (CSRD) association and Russian secret service circles. Schönbohm co-founded the CSRD, which was controversial in political circles, but later distanced himself from it.
Even back then, security experts and political insiders suspected that these allegations were unlikely to be upheld and were not enough to force Schönbohm to be recalled. Despite this, Faeser first banned him from conducting official business and finally deported him to a smaller authority – for his own protection, as the BMI later announced. Last week it became known that Schönbohm had taken legal action against both the BMI and ZDF and Böhmermann.
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