German far-right lawmaker whose assistant was arrested for spying for China keeps up election bid

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BERLIN (AP) — A prominent German far-right lawmaker said Wednesday that he will dismiss an assistant who was arrested on suspicion of spying for China, but will remain the Alternative for Germany party’s top candidate in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Maximilian Krah‘s assistant, Jian Guo, was arrested Monday. Prosecutors accuse Guo — a German national who had worked for Krah since his election to the European Union legislature in 2019 — of working for a Chinese intelligence service and of repeatedly passing on information on negotiations and decisions in the European Parliament in January.

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Prosecutors allege that he also snooped on Chinese dissidents in Germany. On Tuesday night, a judge ordered Guo held in custody pending a possible indictment.

The arrest cast an unflattering light on the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, which already faced criticism for having Russia-friendly positions. The European Parliament elections will take place June 9 in Germany.

Krah said Wednesday he had held “a very friendly and constructive, but appropriately serious” meeting with the party’s leaders. Now that Guo has been ordered kept in custody, “I will dismiss the employee concerned today,” he said.

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“I am very much interested in clearing this up, and will endeavor to find out what exactly he is accused of,” Krah said, adding that his office would work to “reconstruct everything” Guo worked on.

Krah conceded that “the election campaign is, of course, being terribly overshadowed by this matter.” He said that, as a result, he won’t appear at AfD’s official opening campaign rally Saturday in the southwestern town of Donaueschingen.

“But if you think this the end of me as the lead candidate, I must disappoint you,” he told reporters. “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.”

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Krah said there was no wrongdoing on his own part.

News of Guo’s arrest came a day after three Germans suspected of spying for China and arranging to transfer information on technology with potential military uses were arrested in a separate case.

Also on Monday, British prosecutors said a former researcher working in the U.K. Parliament and another man were charged with spying for China.

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