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German court temporarily blocks surveillance of far-right AfD party

BERLIN (Reuters): A German court has temporarily prohibited the BfV domestic intelligence agency from placing the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party under surveillance.

“The constitutionally guaranteed equal opportunities for political parties are being interfered with in an unacceptable manner,” the Cologne court said in a statement on Friday.

It was the second time in two years that the administrative court in the western city of Cologne, where the agency is based, had restricted its monitoring of the AfD, arguing that such activities put the anti-immigrant party at a disadvantage and amount to interference with the democratic process.

The intelligence agency had last week formally placed the AfD, Germany’s largest opposition party, un-der surveillance on suspici-on of trying to undermine the constitution, people bri-efed on the decision said.

The court said the BfV had failed to stick to an agreement to keep any surveillance activities against the party secret.

“This basis of trust has now been destroyed. With every announcement, the encroachment on the equal opportunities of the political parties deepens,” it added. It was not clear who had leaked the BfV decision to start spying on AfD members, which was first reported by Der Spiegel magazine on Wednesday.

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