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Is the European Parliament under threat from espionage?

Alternative for Germany EU candidate Maximilian Krah during interview
Alternative for Germany EU candidate Maximilian Krah during interview Copyright Stroud, Olivia/
Copyright Stroud, Olivia/
By Olivia Stroud
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Fears are mounting that the EU's democracy could be under threat from espionage.

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Germany's far-right Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party is under fire. 

On Wednesday, an advisor to the AfD's lead candidate in European elections Maximilian Krah was arrested and sacked for allegedly spying for China. 

Krah has strongly denied being involved in the espionage, vowing to still stand in the upcoming European Parliament elections - just six weeks away.

This is the second time in a month the anti-immigrant party has faced corruption allegations, with another AfD EU candidate Petr Bystron denying accusations he received €20,000 to spread Kremlin propaganda. 

"AfD is one of the most dangerous parties in Europe"
Hajo Funke
Political professor

These scandals are very damaging to the party's image because both Krah and Bystron are widely supported by far-right members, warned politics professor Dr Hajo Funke.

The party doesn't just want "far-right extremists to vote in the European elections but also those who are frustrated, disappointed by the current government and even by the CDU as the opposition party. And against this backdrop, it's a scandal for them. Yes, and it's not getting any better," Funke told Euronews.

Funke says radicals in the populist party want Krah to stay because they seek a different kind of Germany.

"They want an ethno-nationalist, racist republic," he explained. 

Although AfD is not the only right-wing party in Europe, it is the most 'influential' and "one of the most dangerous," Funke continued. 

The expert also wasn't surprised by the allegations. 

"There have actually been accusations against Maximilian Krah all along, constant accusations against Bystron," he noted. "They are two very radical representatives within the far-right wing of this party."

Allegations could be the tip of the iceberg

Intelligence agencies have been sounding the alarm that authoritarian networks are using espionage tactics to gain political, military and diplomatic advantages across Europe, for several years. 

Many fear that if the AfD were to get into power they could change the constitution and get rid of state-funded media that holds them to account.

Krah didn't respond to Euronews' request for comment. 

The German Bundestag met on Thursday to discuss Russia and China's threat to European democracy.

Member of Bundestag, Konstantin von Notz, called the AfD "a disgrace to this house and to our entire country."

Both Krah and Bystron remain candidates for the AfD in the EU Parliamentary election, although Krah is not attending the opening event of the party's European election campaign this weekend.

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