German authorities have launched a nationwide crackdown on hate speech against politicians involved in last year’s national elections, and have questioned more than 100 suspects.
The Frankfurt Prosecutor’s Office and the Federal Criminal Police Office said the raid was based on an analysis of more than 600 posts on social media for criminal content. The investigation was based on legislation introduced last year to provide harsh punishment for defamation and abuse of people in “political life”, whether at the local, regional or federal level.
It carries a penalty of up to three years in prison for misconduct motivated by a person’s position in public life, which is responsible for “significantly complicating their public affairs.”
Prosecutors did not name the target of the raids, but said the investigation did cover the posts against politicians from all parties currently in the German parliament, and that two-thirds of them were women. It said they included abuses against nationally known politicians as well as fake quotes designed to disrespect their goals.
Parliamentary elections are held in late September.
Tuesday’s move “makes it clear that office-holders are being insulted, slandered and threatened online,” Torsten Kঞ্জnz, the state’s top prosecutor in central Hesse, said in a statement.
No arrests were made immediately.