German man jailed for sending dozens of neo-Nazi threats to politicians

A German man has been jailed for nearly six years for sending threatening letters to politicians with neo-Nazi initials.

The suspect -- identified only as Alexander M. -- had sent dozens of anonymous messages via email, fax, and text to individuals across Germany and Austria.

Prosecutors say the 54-year-old targeted politicians, lawyers, and journalists between August 2018 and March 2021. Some of the threatening messages were addressed to members of the Bundestag, the regional parliament of Hesse, and human rights activists.

He signed the threats with the letters "NSU 2.0" -- a reference to the neo-Nazi "National Socialist Underground" group.

The NSU was responsible for a string of violent crimes in Germany between 1998 and 2011, including the racially motivated killings of nine men with immigrant backgrounds and a police officer.

Alexander M. denied sending the letters and claimed that he was only a member of a "dark web" chat forum.

But the court in Frankfurt found him guilty of a number of offences, including inciting crime, inciting hatred, disturbing the peace, issuing threats, and assaulting a law enforcement officer.

He was handed a prison sentence of five years and 10 months, according to the DPA news agency.

The case comes as German security agencies have been warning of the growing threat of violent far-right extremism.

Germany’s domestic intelligence service says that the number of active right-wing extremists in the country has risen to 33,900.

In June 2019, pro-migrant conservative politician Walter Lübcke was murdered at his home by a right-wing extremist. Two recent shootings -- Halle in 2019 and Hanau in 2010 -- have also been linked to far-right terrorism.