German climate activists describe police wiretapping their communications as ‘absurd’

Members of Letzte Generation splash paint on a gallery painting in protest at lack of climate action by Germany's government
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Prosecutors in Germany confirmed a press report that police investigators listened in on phone calls of climate activists from Letzte Generation (“Last Generation”). The exposé sparked public outrage and rebuke from the activists.

Climate surveillance

Letzte Generation is known for members gluing themselves to roads to draw attention to the climate crisis. Police across Germany raided members of the group in May as part of an investigation into whether the protest group was raising funds to commit ‘criminal acts’. Police in the capital state of Bradenburg carried out similar raids in December 2022.

A spokesperson for the Munich public prosecutor’s office said police are investigating whether Letzte Generation is “forming or supporting a criminal organisation”. Meanwhile, the group branded the police’s actions as “absurd”.

The Sueddeutsche newspaper first revealed the wiretapping on 24 June. It said police surveillance had begun in October 2022. It included monitoring emails and voicemail accounts, and logging the GPS data of mobile phones.

Following the exposé, Munich’s public prosecutor described some of the calls monitored. They included conversations between members of the climate activist group and journalists making media enquiries. Police didn’t target journalists directly, the prosecutor said, but they “were affected by the measures due to calls made via the monitored telephone numbers”.

Disproportionate policing

Reacting to the news, Letzte Generation wrote on Twitter:

We protest showing our names and faces, publish our plans, accept the legal consequences.

Read on...

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Nevertheless, the Bavarian LKA (police) logged telephone calls, emails and movement profiles. Even our press phone was monitored. That is absurd!

The climate activist group added that it is unsure whether police are still surveilling its communications.

Politicians weighed in on the news, too. Dietmar Bartsch, parliamentary leader of the left-wing Linke opposition party, called the surveillance “completely inappropriate”. And Lars Castellucci, an MP from the ruling Social Democrats (SPD), said the wiretapping “raises questions about proportionality”.

Letzte Generation activists have vowed to continue their protests.

Featured image via Letzte Generation/YouTube

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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