BERLIN, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Hans-Georg Maassen, president of the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), voiced doubts about the extent of the attacks on foreigners in the eastern city of Chemnitz on Friday.
After the deadly knife attack on a 35-year-old German man in Chemnitz two weeks ago, there had been demonstrations in the Saxon city by right-wingers, neo-Nazis and opponents of the German refugee policy.
Maassen told the newspaper "Bild" on Friday that he shared "skepticism about media reports on right-wing extremists hunting down people in Chemnitz". The BfV, said Maassen, had "no reliable information about the fact that such hunts have taken place".
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and her government spokesman Steffen Seibert had previously spoken of "hunts" in the context of these protests. Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) contradicted this on Wednesday and also harvested sharp criticism for it.
Maassen cautioned "Bild" about a video showing hunting scenes of foreign people near the Johannisplatz in Chemnitz: "There is no evidence that the video circulating on the Internet about this alleged incident is authentic."
According to BfV president Maassen, "there are good reasons to believe that this is deliberate misinformation that might distract the public from the murder in Chemnitz."
Bundestag Vice President Thomas Oppermann told Deutschlandfunk radio that he could not understand such statements. "We have seen pictures, we have heard witnesses. We saw how people there gave the Hitler salute openly on the street," he said.
The social democrats (SPD) leadership has called on Maassen to present evidence for his doubts about the authenticity of corresponding videos. "If the head of the domestic intelligence service publicly contradicts the Chancellor, he must immediately present evidence for his allegations," SPD Secretary General Lars Klingbeil told the German Press Agency in Berlin on Friday.
The head of the parliamentary group of the german green party, Anton Hofreiter, likewise demanded evidence. With his "imprecise statements", Maassen would give the impression that he wanted to play down the incidents in Chemnitz and distract from the problem of right-wing extremism, Hofreiter told the newspaper "taz" on Friday. Hofreiter referred to "more than 100 investigations, reports on criminal offences, attacks and Hitler salutes in Chemnitz".
Katja Kipping, party leader of the Left (die Linke) called Hans-Georg Maassen an "AfD understander" and called for his replacement. Maassen was "no longer tenable in this office", said Kipping on Friday in Berlin.