BERLIN (Reuters) - German prosecutors said on Monday they were investigating a retired police officer suspected of sending threatening emails, signed with the name of a gang of neo-Nazi killers, to prominent figures of immigrant background.
Concern is growing in Germany that potentially violent anti-immigrant nationalists may be gaining footholds in the uniformed services - a matter of huge sensitivity in a country still acutely aware of the World War Two genocide of millions of Jews and others by Hitler's Nazis.
The man and his wife were detained on Friday but then released while police searched seized computer storage devices.
The emails, including some sent to legislators of Turkish background, were signed "NSU 2.0", a reference to the "National Socialist Underground" neo-Nazi gang, which murdered 10 people, mainly immigrants, between 2000 and 2007.
"The suspects, a former Bavarian police officer, 63, and his wife, 55, had previously come to the attention of police in connection with racially motivated crimes," prosecutors in the city of Frankfurt said. "They are suspected of having sent emails with offensive, inflammatory and threatening contents to legislators and others."
Last week, the interior minister of the state of Hesse said he was aware of 69 such emails. One of the recipients was Aiman Mazyek, chair of the Central Council of Muslims, who published the text on Twitter: "Heil Hitler. Yours, NSU 2.0".
There have been reports that some emails contained restricted information about public figures, implying that the perpetrators may have had access to police databases.
Last month, the government announced it was disbanding a company of an elite commando unit in a effort to purge it of persistent far-right extremism.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Kevin Liffey)