The Austrian Government says it may ban a far-right group that received a large donation from the alleged Christchurch mosque attacker.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the government was investigating whether the Identitarian Movement Austria (IBÖ) was a “terrorist organisation”. Prosecutors confirmed that the group’s leader, Martin Sellner, received about €1,500 (£1,290) from Brenton Tarrant. Mr Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian and self-proclaimed white supremacist, has been charged with murder in connection with attacks at two mosques in the city of Christchurch in which 50 people were killed. The leader of the group in Austria, Martin Sellner, admitted to the ABC it was a sizeable financial contribution, and revealed he urged Brenton Tarrant to watch the Group’s English language videos online, but denied ever meeting the shooting suspect. The financial link to the group raises new questions about the rise of the far right in Austria — and casts a shadow over the Identitarian Movement’s links to the minor coalition partner of the Government, the Freedom Party of Austria.
“Our position on this is very clear, no kind of extremism whatsoever — whether it’s radical Islamists or right-wing extremist fanatics — has any place in our country and our society,” Mr Kurz said.
“I never met him, I never met Brenton Tarrant, I just received his donation and as I always do I wrote a ‘thank you’ email,” Mr Sellner said.
Mr Kurz’s own conservative Austrian People’s Party is in a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, making Austria the only country in Western Europe with a far-right presence in government. Freedom Party leader and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said on Wednesday that his party had “nothing to do with the Identitarians”. Mr Sellner said he had received an email containing a “disproportionally large” donation from a person named “Tarrant”. He said he had sent a “thank you” reply as he did with other donations. “I have nothing to do with this terror attack,” Mr Sellner said, arguing that his organisation was a peaceful anti-immigration group. He said investigators raided his flat in Vienna on Monday and seized his phone, computer, and other devices. Austrian authorities confirmed last week that Brenton Tarrant had visited Austria, reportedly in November, although details of his stay there are unknown.