“Of course, radical climate activists are also under the surveillance of state security,” said Interior Minister Gerhard Karner at the presentation of the current report for the protection of the constitution, which was created for the first time by the new Directorate for State Security and Intelligence (DSN). People who are committed to environmental protection “of course cannot be classified as anti-constitutional per se,” said Karner. Wherever there is a risk, intervene. Otherwise, the following applies: “stick and let stick”.
Three dangerous currents
Because the significantly greater danger comes from three other currents: from right-wing extremism, from anti-state connections and from Islamist extremism.
Above all, the neo-Nazi scene and the so-called “New Right”, such as the Identitarians, who have since been renamed “The Austrians”, used Corona demonstrations for their own interests last year.
The aim is to generate acceptance far beyond the usual audience, according to the report. It has also been shown what potential readiness to use violence is to be expected. Karner referred to several finds of weapons in the right-wing scene. In 2022, more than 660 people were reported in this area, more than 100 house searches were carried out, and 37 arrests were made. A massive increase in threatening letters to authorities was also registered.
It was emphasized that there is also a current acute threat from Islamist extremists. Returnees from the Syrian civil war zone continue to play a role here, as do people who are about to be released from prison. The scene is currently less visible, “but no less dangerous”. It is shaped by individuals or small groups, and radicalization often takes place online. In terms of espionage, further activities from countries such as Russia, Turkey or China would be registered. The Ukraine war leads to additional challenges. In the case of Chinese activities, on the other hand, the areas of business and science are in the foreground.
The political reactions to the report varied: Sabine Schatz, SPÖ spokeswoman for culture of remembrance, was disappointed. The report does not provide any figures at all. The Viennese councilor Viktoria Spielmann (Greens) called for more involvement in the field of right-wing extremism, apparently preferring to deal with climate protection activists. The FPÖ, in turn, found that it was “absolutely right” to include the “climate terrorists” in the report. A more in-depth analysis is now required. The Neos demanded “to finally make meters in the area of espionage”.