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German authorities use scent tracking to keep tabs on G-8 protesters

AP | May 22 2007

BERLIN - German authorities are using scent tracking to keep tabs on possibly violent protesters against next month's Group of Eight summit - a tactic that is drawing comparisons with the methods of former East Germany's secret police.

Scent samples have been taken from an undisclosed number of people believed to be a possible danger to the upcoming summit so that police dogs can pick out the perpetrators if there is violence, the Hamburger Morgenpost reported Tuesday.

Andreas Christeleit, a spokesman for federal prosecutors, confirmed the report but would give no further details.

"This has happened to several suspects," he said.

The use of scent samples was widely known to be practiced in Germany by the East German secret police, the Stasi, who used the technique to track dissidents.

Petra Pau, a senior lawmaker with the opposition Left Party, a group that includes ex-communists, criticized the practice as "another step away from a democratic state of law toward a preventive security state."

"A state that adopts the methods of the East German Stasi, robs itself of every ... legitimacy," she said in a statement.

Violence has marred past summits, particularly in 2001 in Genoa, Italy, when police and protesters clashed in the streets for days. German authorities are increasing security before the June 6-8 summit in the northern resort town of Heiligendamm.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is hosting the event, and the leaders of the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, and Japan are to attend.

Earlier this month, police raided 40 offices and apartments used by left-wing protesters in Berlin, Hamburg and elsewhere, which provoked protests.

Prosecutors at the time said they were investigating more than 18 people suspected of organizing what they called a terrorist group that planned to carry out firebombings and other violent attacks aimed at hindering or stopping the world leaders from holding the summit.

Andreas Blechschmidt, whose Rote Flora - or Red Flora - protest organization's building in Hamburg was among those raided, vowed Tuesday not to be deterred.

"The countrywide raids from early May served only to intimidate," he said.

Police in Berlin are also investigating about a dozen car burnings over the past two weeks. The daily Tageszeitung newspaper said Tuesday it received a letter from the leftist group "mg" - standing literally for "militant group" - claiming responsibility as retaliation for the raids.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has also said that anti-globalization activists deemed to be "potentially violent" may be detained for up to two weeks during the summit in so-called "preventative detention."

A $17 million fence has been built around Heiligendamm in an attempt to keep protesters away. Security officials also have also announced tighter border controls.

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