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German Intel Report Says RT, Sputnik Play 'Key Role' in Russian Disinformation Campaign

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BERLIN (Sputnik) - RT Deutsch and Sputnik have been singled out for allegedly spreading Russian propaganda in Germany by the domestic intelligence agency BfV in its annual report, presented on Thursday.

"Of special significance are German-based media that are run by the Russian state. Broadcaster RT Deutsch and news agency Sputnik play the central role in this," the report read.

The 388-page Constitution Protection Report 2019 was unveiled at a press conference by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and counter-intelligence chief Thomas Haldenwang.

The report said that Russia was also trying to shape public opinion in Germany "in the interest of Russian politics" through influence campaigns that relied on pro-Russian individuals as well as "seemingly independent" organizations and think-tanks.

BfV admitted that Russia had tamed down its perceived propaganda campaign in Germany in 2019, compared to the previous years.

Interior Minister Seehofer defended the targeting of media by the intelligence agency, saying BfV had his complete support.

"What groups and how are mentioned in the report is a professional decision of BfV and is not based on any political directives... I cannot emphasize enough that BfV acts independently," the minister told reporters.

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Asked by a Sputnik journalist whether the report could undermine freedom of media in Germany, Haldenwang argued his agency respected media opinions as long as they were consistent with the constitution.

"We, of course, respect freedoms of opinion and press. We do not dispute opinions voiced in the media in line with the constitution. But we are talking here not about expressed opinions but falsified facts, disinformation," he said.

Haldenwang cited media coverage of protests in Germany last year. He said the numbers were overblown compared to official estimates and were therefore seen as "false statements." He added German authorities were always ready to share the "right figures."

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