15 Mar 2018

Police raid and suspension of security official raise suspicions

Peter Gridling, head of Austria's main domestic intelligence agency, was suspended on Tuesday over an alleged infrigement of proper data storage. The charges against him were obtained by the Vienna police, who raided his home and office last month.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Police raid and suspension of security official raise suspicions - NewsMavens
Police officer, Morocco. H Anderson/Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen has described the case as "extremely unusual and disconcerting." It is certainly surprising that Vienna's task force against street crime, who is normally assigned to dealing with petty crime, would be conducting searches at the homes of government officials.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, in typical fashion, has refused to get involved.

The now-suspended head of the security agency, Peter Gridling, is a dedicated opponent of right-wing extremism. For the right, it would be convenient to have him removed and replaced with an official more closely aligned with the ruling coalition -- something Interior Minister Herbert Kickl and the Freedom Party definitely intend to do.

politics, illiberalism, scandal

Details from the story:

  •  On February 28, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the fight against terrorism (BAT) was stormed on behalf of the Economic Corruption Prosecutor's Office (WKStA). 
  • The fact that the raid was carried out by the Task Force against Street Crime (EGS) made headlines: the unit is led by a politician of the Freedom Party.
  • Sensitive data pertaining to extreme-right matters was seized, and commentators fear that this intelligence could fall in the wrong hands.
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