September 17, 2018 / 7:49 AM / a month ago

Merkel declines to confirm report she has decided top spy must go

ALGIERS/BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided Germany’s domestic intelligence agency chief must go as she thinks he has meddled in day-to-day politics, a newspaper reported on Monday, but she said she had nothing to add to comments she made last week.

Hans-Georg Maassen, President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution arrives for a meeting of the parliamentary committee, that oversees German intelligence agencies in Berlin, Germany, September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the BfV domestic intelligence agency, has come under fire after he cast doubt on the authenticity of video footage showing far-right protesters chasing migrants after the fatal stabbing of a German man.

The debate over Maassen’s future has sparked another crisis in Merkel’s loveless ruling coalition but Merkel said on Friday the alliance would not break apart over the dispute.

“I can only repeat what I said on Friday, which remains valid and there is nothing more to add,” Merkel told a news conference in Algeria when asked if the report in newspaper Die Welt was correct.

The coalition partners are due to meet on Tuesday to discuss Maassen’s future. Merkel had said on Friday that her coalition government would survive the row over Maassen.

Merkel’s junior coalition partners, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), have demanded that conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer fire Maassen over his remarks, but he has so far refused to do so.

A government spokesman declined to comment.

Die Welt said Maassen told a group of conservative politicians on Thursday: “Horst Seehofer told me that if I fall, then he will fall too.”

Reporting by Andreas RinkeWriting by Michelle Martin and Andrea ShalalEditing by Paul Carrel, William Maclean

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