German government denies Scholz comments prompted raids on climate activists

BERLIN (AP) — A German government spokesman on Friday dismissed the idea that comments by Chancellor Olaf Scholz criticizing climate activists could have sparked raids against them this week.

Police raided more than a dozen properties across Germany linked to the Last Generation group on Wednesday, seizing assets as part of an investigation into its finances. Munich prosecutors said they were investigating whether the group was a criminal organization after its repeated roadblocks and other protests sparked widespread public complaints.

Days before the raids, Scholz said he thought it was “completely crazy to somehow stick to a board or the street.”

Members of Last Generation fired back, describing the raids as a blow to democracy and accusing Scholz of downplaying young people’s fears about global warming.

Scholz spokesman Wolfgang Buechner said he did not know if the chancellor had advance knowledge of the raids, but it would be unusual if he did.

When asked if prosecutors in Bavaria might have taken Scholz’s comments as a signal to crack down on the group, Buechner strongly rejected the idea.

“It must be possible for the German chancellor to answer a question about what he thinks about the protests in a clear way,” he said. “I think the Chancellor did it appropriately.”

Buechner said the German government remains committed to tackling climate change and protesters must obey the law.

A United Nations spokesman said Thursday that while governments have a duty to uphold the law, “people also have a fundamental right to demonstrate peacefully to make their voices heard.”

“And it’s clear that a lot of the progress we’ve seen in raising climate change awareness and the positive climate change movement is because people have been peacefully protesting around the world,” Stephane said. Dujarric to reporters in New York.

Environmental activists have said they expect further protests in Germany in the coming days.

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