Schäuble warns of foreign interference in German election

BERLIN — Wolfgang Schäuble, the president of the German parliament, has said he fears attempts from abroad to interfere in September’s general election, warning that “the danger is relatively great.”

“We know what can be done with fake news,” Schäuble told DPA news agency in an interview published Saturday, adding “that a real propaganda war is being fought” in which it’s not clear who’s behind the attacks. Even if there are clear indications, the “usual suspects” would always deny them, Schäuble said.

Schaüble said he is particularly concerned that a large part of the population, while generally well integrated into German society, gets information from foreign media outlets. He added that an outlet such as Russia Today — the former name of Kremlin-backed RT — is “quite obviously not a broadcaster that even comes close to the principles of freedom of the press.”

“The state of freedom of the press in countries like Russia or Turkey also influences voters in Germany,” he said.

Schäuble said it’s not easy for Germany as a society to counteract the problem. But he suggested Germany could have Russian-speaking influencers on social media warn of the dangers of manipulation and propaganda.

Germany holds its parliamentary election on September 26. The result will determine who succeeds Chancellor Angela Merkel, who plans stand down after 16 years in power.

Schäuble — who has been a member of the Bundestag since 1972 — is running for another parliamentary term.

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