German authorities have raided 15 properties and seized assets in an investigation into the financing of protests by the Last Generation climate activist group.
Munich prosecutors said they were investigating seven people, ranging in age from 22 to 38, on suspicion of forming or supporting a criminal organisation.
They launched the inquiry following numerous criminal complaints from the public that they have received since mid-2022.
Members of Last Generation have repeatedly blocked roads across Germany in an effort to pressure the government to take more drastic action against climate change.
In recent weeks, they have brought traffic to a halt on an almost daily basis in Berlin, gluing themselves to busy intersections and highways. Over the past year, they have also targeted various artworks and exhibits.
Their tactics have drawn sharp criticism.
On Monday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he thought it was “completely nutty to somehow stick yourself to a painting or on the street”.
Leading figures with the environmentalist Green party, which is part of his governing coalition, have said the group’s actions are counterproductive.
The Bavarian inquiry adds to an investigation launched last year by prosecutors in Neuruppin, outside Berlin, over actions against an oil refinery in eastern Germany.
That investigation is considering suspicions that Last Generation activists formed a criminal organisation, a label that some conservative-leaning regional officials are also mulling.
Munich prosecutors said the people under investigation are accused of organising and promoting a campaign to “finance further criminal offences” by the group and collecting at least 1.4 million euros ($1.5 million).
Two of them are suspected of trying to sabotage an oil pipeline that connects the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt with the Italian port of Trieste in April 2022.
Wednesday’s searches — accompanied by orders to seize two bank accounts and other assets — aimed to secure evidence on the membership structure of Last Generation and its financing. There were no arrests.
Last Generation has acknowledged that its protests are provocative but it argues that by stirring friction it can encourage debate within society about climate change.
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, the group wrote: “Nationwide raid. #completelynutty.”
“Searches of lobby structures and seizures of government’s fossil money — When?” it said.
Another climate activist group, Extinction Rebellion, voiced solidarity with Last Generation.
It tweeted that the aim of conducting raids on the grounds that Last Generation is a criminal organisation was “to distract attention from the true criminals”.