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The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution is something very special. Other Western democracies do not have such a secret service. It is a secret service that spies domestically. It spies on citizens who do not violate any laws. At the same time, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution has enormous freedom, enormous power. It has much more influence on political movements than the public is aware of.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution does not target criminals, but persons and groups that are declared politically reprehensible.
Never before have there been so many agents investigating Germany's own citizens. The staff of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution has doubled in the last 20 years and its budget has tripled.
Does the Office for the Protection of the Constitution really protect democracy?
Ronen Steinke has been researching the domestic spy milieu for years. He has interviewed spy chiefs and accompanied agents at work. He shows how V-Leute work. And he asks a fundamental question: does this secret service protect democracy - or does it not rather damage it? An opinionated analysis.
With separate chapters on the clandestine actions of domestic espionage against the climate movement, the work of right-wing networks and the Hans-Georg Maaßen case.
Exclusive insight: How the Office for the Protection of the Constitution operates hundreds of right-wing extremist fake accounts.