Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to fire Germany’s intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen after he refuted her claims of right-wing “mobs” chasing migrants during the late August demonstrations in the eastern German city of Chemnitz, German newspaper Die Welt reported.

“We have video recordings of [people] hunting down others, of unruly assemblies, and hate in the streets, and that has nothing to do with our constitutional state,” Chancellor Merkel said last month after residents in the eastern German city took to the streets in response the reported killing of a 35-year-old German by a group of migrants.

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, BfV, challenged the narrative peddled by the mainstream German politicians and media that talked of far-right German “mobs” carrying out a “pogrom” and “witch hunt” against foreigners. “I share the skepticism towards media reports of right-wing extremists chasing down [foreigners] in Chemnitz,” Maassen said.

After the intelligence chief’s statement, Chancellor Merkel doubled down on her claims, describing the street protest in the city of Chemnitz as violent right-wing mobs chasing foreigners.

The intelligence chief’s assessment was backed by Michael Kretschmer, a senior member of Chancellor Merkel’s CDU party and the premier of Saxony state, where Chemnitz is located. “One thing is clear. There was no mob, there was no hunt and there was no pogrom in Chemnitz,” he said.

Germany’s  Die Welt reported the impending ouster of the country’s intelligence chief:

Angela Merkel has backed the position taken by the Social Democrats [German Chancellor’s left-wing coalition partner]. The Chancellor has decided to relieve Hans-Georg Maaßen, the President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution [domestic intelligence agency], of his duties. Die Welt learned it from sources within the [ruling] coalition. (Translation by the author)

The media reporting on the protests in Chemnitz toed the official line pushed by Merkel. “The violence in Chemnitz continues to send shock waves through Germany and beyond after a German man was killed on Sunday and a mob went on the rampage threatening people of color,” wrote the German business daily Handelsblatt.

“‘Pogrom mood’ sweeps Germany over migrants,” said the headline in the UK-based newspaper The Times. “The ugly scenes of mostly white men hurling abuse at people they deemed to be foreigners have deeply alarmed Germany,” British newspaper The Guardian commented.

Intelligence chief Maassen’s refusal to back the official narrative and portray the demonstrations against government’s immigration policy as violent racist mobs attracted sharp criticism from the mainstream German politicians and media, with leading members of Merkel’s government calling for his ouster. German media outlets ran a string of negative stories against the spy chief, at one point even accusing him of passing on sensitive intelligence to the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

The media campaign against the intelligence chief continues unabated. Die Welt claimed popular support for the sacking of Maassen, citing an online poll:

More than half of Germans want Maassen, President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, to quit his job. 54 percent consider it appropriate that Merkel would opt to fire Maassen. Almost 45 percent find the decision ‘absolutely correct.’ (Translation by the author)

Meanwhile, the nationwide opinion polls paint a very different story. The media campaign to smear the opponents of Merkel’s open door immigration policy as violent extremists appears to be backfiring. Recent polling numbers show AfD as the second biggest party in the country. With 17.5 percent of the popular support, the AfD is now trailing only behind Merkel’s CDU party (28.5 percent). In the September 2017 election, the newly formed anti-mass immigration party had entered German parliament for the first time, winning 12,5 percent of the vote.

UPDATE: Merkel has fired the intel chief. He will be “removed from his post and reassigned to a new position in the Interior Ministry,” German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports.

Video: Protests in east German city of Chemnitz [August 2018]

[Cover image via YouTube]