German spy chief removal causes turbulence in Merkel gov’t

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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