In a move without precedent in German history, the country will soon deport two German-born men accused of having discussed terrorist activity.
On Tuesday, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig threw out a case saying that the men, one an Algerian national and the other a Nigerian citizen, should not be deported because there was no proof they had committed a serious offense. In so doing, it cleared the way for deportations that the state government of Lower Saxony ordered last month, when it described the pair as a threat to national security.
It is the first time in the country’s history that German-born residents will be deported, a spokesman for Lower Saxony’s interior ministry told the dpa news agency. The ruling may be a sign of hardening attitudes in Germany, which has been facing the joint challenges of migrant inflows and terrorist attacks since 2015.
"You can count on us using all means at our disposal with full force," state Interior Minister Boris Pistorius said, the Associated Press reported. "It's completely irrelevant whether they grew up here or not."
In February, investigators detained both men, who have not been identified publicly, in Goettingen. Among the items they found were ISIS flags, a machete, and two weapons, at least one of which had been altered to fire live ammunition. Though there was no proof that they were planning a terror attack, the men were known to police through their affiliation with Salafists, Agence France Presse reported, and local authorities asked for them to be deported.
The deportations are sanctioned under a little-known and never-before-enforced law, passed as part of an anti-terrorism package after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
Deporting foreigners considered dangerous has become an increasing focus of German government efforts to protect its citizens, following three high-profile terrorist attacks claimed by the so-called Islamic State group (ISIS) last year. After the attack on a Berlin Christmas market by a Tunisian who had been denied refugee status, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked North African states to expedite repatriation procedures.
Dual nationals who fight for extremist groups can also be stripped of their citizenship.
Unlike the United States, Germany does not confer citizenship on any child born in the country. Instead, citizenship follows the principle of jus sanguinis, or right of blood, in which citizenship is not determined by birthplace but by the citizenship of both parents. That means Germany can deport people to their country of citizenship even if they have lived in Germany all their lives.
The two men will be deported to Algeria and Nigeria, respectively, before Easter. The planned deportation to Algeria comes after an agreement with the Algerian government that the deportee would not be tortured or subjected to inhumane treatment, according to Deutsche Welle.
"This is a clear signal to all fanatics that we won't leave them one centimeter for their inhuman plans," Mr. Pistorius said.