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Far-right German MEP to remain top EU candidate despite aide's arrest on Chinese spying charges

AfD lawmaker Maximilian Krah.
AfD lawmaker Maximilian Krah. Copyright Jean-Francois Badias/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Jean-Francois Badias/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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The leading candidate for the AfD says he will fire a staffer facing espionage charges, but is refusing to step back from his own position.

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A prominent German far-right lawmaker said on Wednesday that he will dismiss an assistant who was arrested on suspicion of spying for China, but will remain his party's top candidate in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Maximilian Krah's assistant, Jian Guo, was arrested on Monday. Prosecutors accuse Guo – a German national who had worked for Krah since his election to the EU legislature in 2019 – of working for a Chinese intelligence service and repeatedly passing on information about negotiations and decisions in the European Parliament.

Prosecutors allege that he also snooped on Chinese dissidents in Germany. On Tuesday night, a judge ordered Guo held in custody pending a possible indictment.

The arrest has cast an unflattering light on the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, a far-right party that has already faced criticism for taking Russia-friendly positions.

Krah said Wednesday he had held “a very friendly and constructive, but appropriately serious” meeting with the party's leaders, and that he will be dismissing Guo.

“I am very much interested in clearing this up, and will endeavour to find out what exactly he is accused of,” Krah said, adding that his office would work to “reconstruct everything” Guo worked on.

The German round of the European Parliament elections is set to take place on June 9.

Krah conceded that “the election campaign is, of course, being terribly overshadowed by this matter.” He said that, as a result, he won't appear at the AfD's official opening campaign rally Saturday in the southwestern town of Donaueschingen.

“But if you think this the end of me as the lead candidate, I must disappoint you,” he told reporters. “I am and remain the top candidate; what this is about now is refocusing the election campaign on European issues and getting away from this very unpleasant matter.”

Krah insisted there was no wrongdoing on his own part.

News of Guo's arrest came a day after three Germans suspected of spying for China and arranging to transfer information on technology with potential military uses were arrested in a separate case.

Also on Monday, British prosecutors said a former researcher working in the UK parliament and another man had been charged with spying for China.

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