German spy chief resigns following criticism in neo-Nazi probe
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BERLIN -- The head of Germany’s national intelligence service resigned Monday, following months of missteps by his agency in its handling of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell.
The agency and its chief, Heinz Fromm, first came under criticism in November amid revelations that the cell, which called itself the National Socialist Underground, had committed 10 murders across the country, mostly of immigrants. Subsequent reports showed repeated miscommunication between the national and state intelligence services that allegedly allowed the group to continue its killing spree, despite the presence of paid state informants in right-wing circles who had direct contact with the group.
In January, the national agency again sparked outrage after reports that it had placed 27 left-wing members of the German parliament under observation.
And last week, it was revealed that members of the agency had shredded files related to the National Socialist Underground in November, just after the group’s existence came to light.
According to the newsweekly Der Spiegel, Fromm offered his resignation to Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich last Thursday, but it was not accepted. On Monday, Friedrich accepted his resignation.
“This has caused a considerable loss of confidence and grave damage to the reputation of the agency,” Fromm said of the shredding incident shortly before his resignation.
The 63-year-old Fromm has led the intelligence agency since 2000, the year the series of murders, allegedly by the National Socialist Underground, began. The neo-Nazi group evaded capture until one member turned herself in and two others were found dead in a mobile home.
-- Aaron Wiener