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German leader hugged at airport in odd security gap

A man has been able to drive with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s convoy onto a secure area of the Frankfurt Airport’s tarmac and then embrace the leader.

Germany Politics A German official says Chancellor Olaf Scholz
May 27, 2023
27 May 2023

German officials are reviewing security failures after a man managed to drive with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s convoy onto a secure area of the Frankfurt Airport’s tarmac and then embraced the German leader.

The man got out of his car, shook Scholz’s hand and then hugged him on Wednesday, a spokesman for Scholz confirmed on Friday.

Only then did the chancellor’s bodyguards become aware of the potentially threatening situation. 

The man was arrested by federal police without incident.

The man was able to drive a private car past a security barrier along with official vehicles despite having a licence plate that was not cleared, the Bild newspaper reported.

Scholz was in Frankfurt to visit the European Central Bank headquarters.

“The Chancellor… did not feel threatened at any time,” deputy government spokesman Wolfgang Büchner said.

Büchner said that the incident raised questions that would now need to be addressed but that the chancellor was merely startled by the unexpected embrace.

“From that point of view, it was surprising for him but in the concrete situation it was not a major incident.”

A representative for the Interior Ministry described Wednesday’s incident as “naturally unacceptable” but said it wasn’t immediately apparent what caused the security failure. 

An investigation has been launched.

The incident compromised security measures put in place by the state police, federal police and the Federal Criminal Police Office. 

“The aim of the reappraisal is, of course, to ensure that such an event cannot happen again,” it said.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser suggested on Friday that there would be consequences for the apparent security lapse. 

“That must not happen,” Faeser said during a meeting with Czech leaders at a border crossing on Friday.

Martin Hildebrant, a leader of the German association that oversees private bodyguards, described the incident as a remarkable failure.

“I have not heard of anything like this is 25 years,” Hildebrandt said.

“This is a worst-case scenario for bodyguards. Something must have gone wrong beforehand.”

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