German spy chief removal causes turbulence in Merkel gov’t

FILE - In this May 16, 2018 file photo Chair of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Andrea Nahles, right, speaks at the plenary session of the German Bundestag in the Reichstags building in front of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, from left, in Berlin. A decision to remove Germany’s spy chief after he appeared to downplay recent far-right protests but give him a new government job is causing discontent in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — A decision to give a new government job to Germany’s domestic intelligence chief, who was removed from that post after appearing to downplay recent far-right protests, is causing discontent in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition.

Hans-Georg Maassen was removed as head of the BfV intelligence agency after Merkel’s center-left coalition partners, the Social Democrats, demanded his departure. But conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is making him a deputy minister, technically a promotion.

Social Democrat leader Andrea Nahles now faces criticism within her own party for agreeing.

Nahles said Thursday she understands the annoyance and also thinks Seehofer’s insistence on keeping Maassen is wrong, but stands by her decision.

She made clear she wasn’t prepared to sacrifice the fractious six-month-old coalition over the question.

Party leaders will discuss the issue Monday.

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