Four teenagers investigated over attack on German MEP

Member of the European Parliament Matthias Ecke walks in Dresden

By Sarah Marsh and Holger Hansen

BERLIN (Reuters) -Four teenagers are being investigated over an attack on a German member of the European Parliament that left him needing surgery, police said on Monday, as Berlin debated how to tackle a rise in assaults on politicians.

Matthias Ecke, 41, was kicked and beaten as he put up posters for the Social Democrats (SPD) - the centre-left party of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz - on Friday evening in Dresden, capital of the eastern state of Saxony.

Leaders across Germany and the EU condemned the assault, and other attacks on politicians that have doubled in Germany since the 2019 European Parliament elections, according to government data published in January.

A 17-year-old went to a police station on Saturday and said he was involved in the attack, police said. Officers then identified three more young men on Sunday, searched their homes and gathered evidence, police added.

All four are German nationals aged 17 to 18, police said. The statement did not say whether the teenagers were in custody.

There is reason to believe one of the suspects has right-wing views, a spokesperson for the state criminal investigation office said, commenting on a report in the Spiegel news magazine that evidence of right-wing extremist leanings was found in the 17-year-old's home.


Ecke shared a picture of his injuries on X on Monday, showing a black eye and his cheek swollen with a plaster.

"This is not just about me, but about everyone who is politically active out of passion. In a democracy, nobody should have to fear speaking their mind!" he wrote.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser condemned the attack and called a special meeting with the country's 16 state interior ministers on Tuesday.

The heads of the SPD in Saxony - Henning Homann and Kathrin Michel - issued a statement blaming the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has seen a surge in support in the past year, taking it to second place in opinion polls nationwide.

AfD co-leader Alice Weidel said attempts to use the attack on Ecke for political gains were "vile and irresponsible", and that AfD politicians and members were frequently attacked.

Greens party politicians face the most aggression in Germany - attacks on them have risen sevenfold since 2019 to 1,219 last year, the statistics released in January showed.

AfD politicians faced the second-highest number of attacks with 478, and the SPD the third-highest with 420, according to the data.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh, Holger Hansen and Rachel More; Editing by Miranda Murray and Andrew Heavens)