BERLIN (AP) — German police searched homes and questioned suspects as part of an annual nationwide crackdown against online hate speech, authorities said Wednesday.
Police carried out 91 operations in 14 German states.
In the central state of Hesse, officers investigated three women and six men, ages 17 to 72, prosecutors said. The allegations against them include incitement to hatred, defamation and libel.
Germany has staged annual police raids against online hate speech since 2016.
The country's top security official, Nancy Faeser, said in a statement that crimes committed on social media, messaging apps and Internet forums provide “fertile ground for extremist violence."
“We need to draw clear lines here and get the culprits out of their supposed anonymity,” she said.
Federal police say more than 2,000 politically motivated crimes committed online are recorded each year in Germany, but the actual figure is likely to be much higher because many illegal postings aren't reported to authorities or take place in closed groups.