Martin Sellner has denied any connection to the New Zealand attack suspect | Photo: picture-alliance
Martin Sellner has denied any connection to the New Zealand attack suspect | Photo: picture-alliance

Authorities have raided the Austrian Identitarian Movement leader Martin Sellner's Vienna apartment. His group received a larger-than-usual donation from a email address linked to the suspected Christchurch terrorist.

Austrian authorities on Tuesday confirmed that they had raided the Vienna home of Martin Sellner, seizing computers and cellphones as part of an ongoing investigation.

Hansjörg Bacher, a spokesman for Austrian prosecutors, said that Sellner's far-right Identitarian Movement had been under investigation for possible financial offenses when a larger-than-normal donation was noticed.

That donation was from an email address which matched the name of the Australian alleged to have shot dead 50 people in a terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15.

Read more: Opinion: Terrorism does not discriminate

Authorities say the terror suspect appeared to have donated €1,500 ($1,700) in 2018. Sellner is under investigation to determine whether he is seeking to establish, or is part of a terrorist organization.

Identitarian leader denies involvement

Sellner immediately denied any connection to the suspect, releasing an online video saying, "I have nothing to do with the terrorist attack."

He said that the money would be given to a charitable foundation and his group's anti-immigration activities were peaceful.

However, he vowed that his group would continue to fight against the "great replacement," a xenophobic term Identitarians use to refer to their fear of Muslim or non-European migrants becoming the majority in Europe. The term was also the title of the alleged New Zealand gunman's manifesto.

Dubious pilgrimages

The Identitarian Movement regularly stages marches commemorating the liberation of Vienna from the Ottoman Turks in 1683. The suspected Christchurch attacker also visited Vienna, Turkey and the Balkans during trips to Europe.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted that "Any connection between the Christchurch attacker and members of the Identitarians in Austria must be comprehensively and ruthlessly investigated."

In a separate tweet Kurz said, "There must be total clarity about all extremist activities."

The Identitarian Movement is close to some parts of Austria's nationalist Freedom Party, which forms part of the coalition government.

Author: DW

First published: March 27, 2019

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