Hans-Georg Maaßen

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Hans-Georg Maaßen
Hans-Georg Maaßen (2012).jpg
President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution
In office
1 August 2012 – 8 November 2018[1]
ChancellorAngela Merkel
DeputyErnst Stehl
Thomas Haldenwang
Preceded byHeinz Fromm
Succeeded byThomas Haldenwang
Personal details
Born (1962-11-24) 24 November 1962 (age 56)
Rheindahlen, West Germany
Alma materUniversity of Cologne

Hans-Georg Maaßen (born 24 November 1962) is a German civil servant and lawyer. From 1 August 2012 to 8 November 2018[1], he served as the President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic security agency and one of three agencies in the German Intelligence Community.[2][3]

Life and career[edit]

Maaßen was born on 24 November 1962 in Mönchengladbach. In 1991 he began working at Germany's Interior Ministry. On 18 July 2012 Maaßen was appointed by the Cabinet of Germany to take over from Heinz Fromm as President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. [4] Several months later, he was sworn in to this post.[5] On 18 September 2018, an agreement was made to promote Maaßen to a role within the Interior Ministry and relieve him of his previous duties once a successor for his post has been agreed on.[3] However, after various statements critical of the German government, he was instead placed in "early retirement" on 8 November 2018.[6][1]

Controversy[edit]

2013 mass surveillance disclosures[edit]

During the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures, German media reported that Maaßen visited the headquarters of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in January and May. According to classified documents of the German government, Maaßen had agreed to transfer all data collected by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution via XKeyscore to the NSA.[7]

Snowden question[edit]

In June 2016 he questioned whether Edward Snowden was working for Russian intelligence, and Snowden sent a sarcastic response in perfect German.[8]

Ob Maaßen Agent des SVR oder FSB ist, kann derzeit nicht belegt werden. (Whether Maaßen is an agent of the SVR or FSB [two Russian security services] cannot be currently determined.)

Cooperation with the FSB had also been suggested by Oleg Kalugin, at least since Snowden's arrival in Russia.[9]

Chemnitz[edit]

Maaßen caused further controversy following the 2018 Chemnitz protests, during which it appeared an angry mob had "hunted" foreign-looking people. In an interview with Bild, Maaßen questioned whether there was any credible evidence for such "hunts", and stated that his security agency had in fact not seen any such evidence. Maaßen offered no reason for questioning the widely accepted narrative of what had happened in Chemnitz.[10]

Maaßen's statements, which seemed to undermine the credibility of the media and political institutions such as the one he represented, led to calls for his dismissal across the political spectrum (excluding the AfD).[10] After Maaßen had been asked to explain his behaviour to a parliamentary committee, the SPD called on Angela Merkel to dismiss Maaßen immediately.[11] This move could have escalated to a crisis within the Fourth Merkel cabinet since the responsible minister, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, continued to back Maaßen over the row. In attempt to resolve the situation, on 18 September 2018 an agreement was reached to move Maaßen from his role as President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution to a role as state secretary in Seehofer's ministry. According to media reports this new position would have been on a higher pay grade.[12] However, this proposed solution caused further outrage among the German public and members of the SPD, who did not accept what would effectively be a promotion for Maaßen. A renegotiation within the government ended on 23 September 2018 with an announcement that Maaßen would now be an "advisor" in the interior ministry, and no longer be receiving a pay rise.[13]

Departure speech and early retirement[edit]

Shortly after the Chemnitz controversy, Maaßen caused yet another scandal with his departure speech from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. According to a copy of this speech leaked to the public in early November 2018, in it Maaßen presented himself as the victim of a conspiracy of "radical left-wing" forces in the German government against him, due to his criticism of the government's "naive", "left-wing" security and migration policies. On 5 November, as a result, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer concluded that a trusting relationship with Maaßen was no longer possible, asking president Frank-Walter Steinmeier to place him in early retirement.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Verfassungsschutzpräsident Maassen offiziell nicht mehr im Amt" (in German). 8 November 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Dr. Maaßen wird zum 1. August Präsident des BfV" [Dr. Maaßen will be President of the BfV from 1 August] (Press release) (in German). Berlin, German: Bundesministerium des Innern (BMI). 18 July 2012. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  3. ^ a b "Maaßen muss gehen - ins Innenministerium". BR24 (in German). 18 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Neuer Präsident für das Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz" (in German). Federal Ministry of the Interior. 2012-07-18. Archived from the original on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  5. ^ Jenna Günnewig (2012-11-15). "Terrorabwehrzentrum in Köln eröffnet". Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln. Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  6. ^ a b "Seehofer schickt Maaßen in einstweiligen Ruhestand" (in German). 5 November 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Verfassungsschutz beliefert NSA" (in German). Süddeutsche Zeitung. Retrieved 14 September 2013. Die Zusammenarbeit des Verfassungsschutzes mit der NSA könnte künftig sogar noch ausgeweitet werden. Seit Juli 2013 testet der Verfassungsschutz die Späh- und Analysesoftware XKeyscore. Sollte der Geheimdienst das Programm im Regelbetrieb nutzen, hat sich das BfV verpflichtet, alle Erkenntnisse mit der NSA zu teilen. Das hatte der Präsident des Bundesamtes, Hans-Georg Maaßen, dem US-Dienst zugesichert. Im Januar und Mai war Maaßen zu Besuchen bei der NSA.
  8. ^ "German Constitutional Protection: Snowden could be Russian spy (German)". June 10, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  9. ^ "Former KGB general: Snowden is cooperating with Russian intelligence". May 22, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "German security chief called to explain claims about far-right videos". 11 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Germany's SPD demands dismissal of top security official". 13 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Chemnitz unrest: German top spy Maassen forced out". 18 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Fractious Germany Coalition Strikes Deal Over Intel Chief". 23 September 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018.