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Police search offices of far-right MEP over Chinese espionage allegations

Maximilian Krah is a member of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).
Maximilian Krah is a member of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). Copyright European Union 2022
Copyright European Union 2022
By Jorge LiboreiroAida Sanchez Alonso
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Law enforcement on Tuesday morning conducted searches in the Brussels offices of Maximilian Krah, the far-right MEP whose assistant has been arrested for allegedly spying for China.

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"The European Parliament has given its consent to enter the premises," Germany's Federal Prosecutor's office said in a short statement, announcing the raid.

The search is being carried out "on the basis of orders issued by the investigating judge of the Federal Court of Justice and a European Investigation Order," the statement adds.

It is led by Belgian police in the presence of German authorities as observers.

The operation covered the offices of Maximilian Krah and his accredited assistant, Jian Guo, who last month was arrested in Germany after being accused of serving as "an employee of the Chinese secret service" as well as "repeatedly passing on information about negotiations and decisions in the European Parliament to his intelligence client."

Guo is also accused of having snooped on Chinese dissidents living in Germany.

The allegations were quickly dubbed Chinagate and prompted political outrage, as they came on the heels of a separate investigation into undue Russian interference and in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in June.

Maximilian Krah is a prominent member of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) who, since 2019, has sat with the far-right Identify and Democracy (ID) group in the hemicycle.

After the charges against his assistant became public, Krah declared he learned about the arrest "from the press" and did not have any "additional information" to share.

His office later confirmed Guo had been dismissed from his position.

Euronews has reached out to Krah's office for comment on the latest developments.

A spokesperson for the European Parliament said the institution "fully cooperates with law enforcement and judicial authorities to assist the course of justice" and therefore permitted access to the lawmaker's office.

The news coincides with a closely watched tour of Chinese President Xi Jinping across three European countries: France, Hungary and Serbia.

A picture taken by a Euronews reporter near the offices of Maximilian Krah.
A picture taken by a Euronews reporter near the offices of Maximilian Krah.Euronews.

Despite the turmoil, Krah has refused to back down as the AfD's top candidate for the June elections, where he will be vying for a new term.

"If you think this the end of me as the lead candidate, I must disappoint you,” he told reporters in late April. "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."

Pro-European parties have seized on the allegations, both related to Chinese and Russian influence, to assail the far right as a threat to democracy and European values. In recent weeks, the AfD has lost support in German opinion polls.

The far right, however, is not the only force that has been besieged by accusations of foreign intrusion. In late 2022, three sitting members of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) were accused of partaking in a cash-for-favours scheme allegedly paid by Qatar and Morocco to sway decision-making inside the European Parliament.

The so-called Qatargate unleashed a media frenzy and forced the institution to design an updated, stricter code of conduct to contain the PR crisis.

This article has been updated with more information.

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