German spy chief quits over neo-Nazi investigation scandal
Taking the fall for his staff
The head of German intelligence was forced to resign yesterday due to revelations that his agents deliberately destroyed and manipulated files containing information about a neo-Nazi terror cell behind the country’s worst far-right violence since the Second World War.
Heinz Fromm, 63, said he took responsibility for the actions of staff who shredded seven intelligence documents, left out key information from computer files and lied to their superiors at the height of an inquiry into neo-Nazi terrorists last November.
Mr Fromm, who resigned after 12 years at the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said the actions of the agents involved were unprecedented. “Nothing like this has ever occurred before during my tenure,” he said. “It is a major breach of trust and hugely damaging to the reputation of the service.”
One of the most serious post-war German intelligence scandals; reports about the shredded documents were leaked to the media and provoked outrage from MPs who called for an immediate investigation.
Politicians said the shredded files left the agency open to “every possible suspicion”, including the notion that neo-Nazis were on its payroll or that agents themselves had neo-Nazi sympathies. The agency has made no secret of its use of paid “moles” to infiltrate the neo-Nazi scene.