Shocking news today, as German arms manufacturer Heckler and Koch has admitted to in 2013 attempting to use the German counterintelligence agency MAD to investigate negative press of its G36 rifle in the media. Deutsche Welle reports:
Heckler & Koch (HK) has admitted to using a Defense Ministry go-between to ask Germany’s counterintelligence service, MAD, to look into negative press coverage in 2013. HK higher-ups reportedly wanted to know who was responsible for negative press coverage amid worries of a hostile takeover. MAD reportedly refused the requests.
The Sunday edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has reported that in the summer of 2013 HK officials had become suspicious that a group of intelligence officers and foreign investors aimed to take over the company.
That year, the media began to look deeper into accusations from 2010 that HK’s G36 rifle – the Bundeswehr standard and popular with militaries worldwide – did not shoot straight when it gets too hot, either because of weather conditions or excessive firing. The Bundeswehr had made its last mass G36 purchase in 2005. The scandal has since roped in Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, the defense minister at the time the news broke, and Ursula von der Leyen, his replacement at defense. Von der Leyen said the G36 in its current form has ” no future” in the Bundeswehr.
With the revelations that HK attempted to use MAD to spy on the press, it might record more negative headlines this year. Company officials continue to insist that negative press coverage is the result of an orchestrated campaign against HK.
Heckler and Koch have repeatedly claimed that allegations of the G36’s unsuitability for war are part of an orchestrated political campaign to sink the company, and some have questioned whether the accusations are part of a bid for the chancellorship by von der Leyen – though in my opinion the G36 controversy is nearly as much a scandal for the German Defense Ministry as it is for H&K.