German military rejected 63 applicants over security concerns since 2017

Li Jiayao
2019-07-23 08:25:11

BERLIN, July 22 (Xinhua) -- The Bundeswehr rejected 63 applicants over the past two years because of "the existence of a security risk," according to a response by the German Ministry of Defense to a parliamentary inquiry by the Left faction on Monday.

The rejected Bundeswehr applicants included 21 right-wing extremists and members of the unconstitutional "Reichsbuerger" movement, two left-wing extremists as well as "those willing to commit violence," and others according to the ministry's response sent to Xinhua.

Two other applicants were currently being examined for membership in the Identitarian Movement, which the German domestic intelligence service (BfV) recently classified as a right-wing extremist group.

Between July 2017 and June 2019, the German military counter-intelligence service (MAD) examined 43,775 applicants to the German armed forces, according to the response. In 1,173 cases the security personnel had taken a closer look at the applicants.

The ministry introduced the personnel inspections in 2017 "in particular" because of indications that some extremists wanted to join the Bundeswehr as well as a "danger of abuse" by right-wing extremists," according to the government response.

Since the introduction of personnel inspections, every applicant to the German armed forces had been screened by the MAD, the ministry stated.

"Security clearance is likely to have a deterrent effect on neo-Nazis," said Ulla Jelpke, spokesperson on domestic affairs for the German Left party parliamentary group.

Although security screening was a necessary and correct step, "it is far from sufficient," stressed Jelpke, adding that it was much more urgent to "finally take vigorous action against soldiers who are right-wing extremists" in the German armed forces.

On Sunday, the newly appointed German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer rejected the accusation that the Bundeswehr had an "attitude problem" with right-wing extremism.

"There is no general suspicion against our soldiers" who risked their lives and limbs for Germany's safety Kramp-Karrenbauer told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

She added, however, that this did not mean "that we do not take a close look at places where things need to be critically dealt with".

Back in 2017, Kramp-Karrenbauer's predecessor Ursula von der Leyen had said that the Bundeswehr had an "attitude problem" as well as "leadership weakness at various levels" after several cases of right-wing extremism among the troops were uncovered.

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