German Covid conspiracy theorist Attila Hildmann is blocked on Telegram

Hildmann had more than 100,000 followers on the messaging app

BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 30: German vegan cookbook author and activist Attila Hildmann speaks as demonstrators attend a protest rally against coronavirus restrictions next to the German federal Chancellery, in front of the Reichstag, seat of the German federal parliament, during the novel coronavirus crisis on May 30, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Similar demonstrations have been held across the country for weeks, drawing people from a wide political spectrum who feel government-imposed restrictions to stem the spread of the virus are undemocratic and too invasive, even as many of the preventative measures are lifted. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

A German far-right conspiracy theorist who was one of the leading figures in anti-lockdown protests during the pandemic has been blocked on messaging app Telegram.

Attila Hildmann, who evaded an arrest warrant by leaving Germany for Turkey earlier this year, had more than 100,000 followers on the site.

In a message to supporters on another site, he said that Telegram had not shut down his account but that Apple and Google had blocked access to it.

“The truth that I’m exposing is hurting them and they’re doing everything to silence me,” he said.

Mr Hildmann, who was previously better known as a vegan celebrity chef, had claimed that vaccines were being used to poison children and suggested that PCR tests were meant to implant secretive technology in people’s noses.

In another post he claimed that people were being made ill by wearing masks rather than because of the coronavirus.

Authorities in Berlin last year launched an anti-Semitism investigation into Mr Hildmann, who claimed he was being pursued by Jews.

In interviews and online posts he defended the Nazis and joked about having the same initials as Adolf Hitler.

He was a leading figure in anti-lockdown protests which sprang up in Germany last year and were described as "hygiene demos".

The protests caused widespread concern in Germany, especially after marchers tried to storm the parliament building in Berlin last August.

Mr Hildmann was detained outside the Russian embassy in Berlin during that day’s demonstrations.

On another occasion, Mr Hildmann described a Berlin museum as being the centre of a global conspiracy of “corona criminals”.

He claimed the museum of ancient artefacts was home to a “Throne of Satan” where human sacrifices were conducted at night.

German vegan cookbook author and conspiracy theorist Attila Hildmann speaks during a protest against restrictions implemented in order to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic  in front of Altes Museum in Berlin, on June 20, 2020. (Photo by Stefanie LOOS / AFP)

Departure for Turkey

Under growing scrutiny by German authorities, Mr Hildmann left Germany for Turkey earlier this year.

His departure led to speculation that he had been tipped off about the arrest warrant.

A dual German-Turkish national who described Turkey as his true home and praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said he would remain in the country “until Germany is free again”.

Berlin state prosecutors confirmed there was a warrant against Mr Hildmann but acknowledged it was unlikely to be acted upon anytime soon.

Mr Hildmann was suspected of hate speech, inciting criminal acts and resisting government officials, they said.

On Tuesday he told his followers to subscribe to a backup Telegram account and directed them to a series of other platforms.

Authorities fear that the social and economic fallout from the pandemic could lead to a boost in support for extremist messages.

The European Council published a communique on security and terrorism on Monday which included a warning about increased radicalisation.

“The online presence of extremist groups is on the rise since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said.

“In the medium to long term, the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences may prove to be a favourable breeding ground for extremist narratives.”

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS