Around 280 officers have searched several properties in eight German states in connection with investigations into extremist “Reich Citizens,” dpa has learnt.
According to dpa information, the suspects are suspected of forming a criminal organization.
The Reich Citizens, or Reichsbürger in German, are a diffuse group of people living in Germany who do not recognize the authority of the current system of government and reject its democratic and constitutional structures such as the parliament and the courts.
German police have conducted repeated raids on homes and offices of alleged members of the movement in recent months.
In October, police in several states searched the homes of Reich Citizen members allegedly linked to a group that calls itself “United Patriots,” which is said to have planned a coup and a new constitution based on the German empire of 1871.
Five alleged members of the United Patriots are already on trial. The Koblenz Higher Regional Court charged the four men and one woman with planning a coup and intending to kill Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.
They despise Lauterbach for restrictions the government imposed at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2022, Germany’s intelligence agency counted about 23,000 members of the Reich Citizens and the wider “Selbstverwalter” (Self-Governing) scene – 2,000 more than in the previous year.
Alongside not recognizing the legitimacy of the German state, Reich Citizens often refused to pay taxes or fines and in some cases amassed illegal weapons.