Drone crash-lands in front of Angela Merkel in Pirate party protest
A small drone that hovered over a campaign rally by German Chancellor Angela Merkel before crash-landing in front of her was a protest by the upstart Pirate party, it said yesterday.
Merkel looked on apparently amused as the 40cm wide device, fitted with a camera, dropped down on the podium just metres away from her at the Christian Democratic Union event on Sunday in the eastern city of Dresden.
A week before Merkel seeks a third term in general elections, the Internet-freedom Pirates, who campaign for greater transparency in politics, said they wanted to take aim at the government's stance on drones. They had sought to convey to Merkel and Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere, on the podium with her, "how it feels to suddenly be observed by a drone", the party's deputy chairman Markus Barenhoff said in a statement.
Video: Drone makes an awkward landing near Angela Merkel at campaign rally
"For us, the use of drones within the EU's security framework is the expression of a disastrous trend."
It was also a protest against a scrapped spy drone deal which had already swallowed more than €500 million (HK$5.2 billion) before being axed earlier in the year, said the statement.
After police forced an unidentified Pirate party member to ground the drone, he conducted an emergency landing "in the area in front of the stage in order not to endanger anyone", Barenhoff added. A 23-year-old man was temporarily detained.
The Pirate party, which burst onto Germany's political scene by grabbing seats in four regional parliaments, has seen its fortunes drop off recently and is credited with about 3 per cent backing in polls - below the level needed to win seats in parliament.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment, beyond saying Merkel "has confidence, as she always does, that what's necessary for her security is done".
An interior ministry spokesman said the federal police, responsible for Merkel's personal security, had "taken note of the incident and will draw its conclusions from it".
Last month media reports that a 24-year-old man had managed to board a government jet used by Merkel while it was parked in the military section of Cologne/Bonn airport raised security questions.
The man was reported to have been carrying marijuana and ecstasy pills when he climbed into the Airbus 319 wearing just his underpants and sprayed extinguisher foam.
The incident reportedly happened on a July evening while Merkel attended a performance of The Flying Dutchman at the Bayreuth Wagner opera festival.