BERLIN (AP) — A German government spokesman on Friday rejected the idea that comments by Chancellor Olaf Scholz criticizing climate activists could have led to raids on him this week.

Police searched more than a dozen properties Wednesday throughout Germany linked to the Last Generation group, seizing assets as part of an investigation into its finances. Prosecutors in Munich said they are investigating whether the group constitutes a criminal organization after its repeated roadblocks and other protests drew widespread public complaints.

Days before the raids, Scholz said he thought it was ” completely crazy sticking in some way to a painting or on the street”.

Last Generation members fired back, describing the raids as a blow to democracy and accusing Scholz of belittling young people’s fears about global warming.

Scholz’s spokesman, Wolfgang Buechner, said he did not know if the chancellor had prior knowledge of the raids, but that it would be unusual if that were the case.

When asked if Bavarian prosecutors might have taken Scholz’s comments as a signal to crack down on the group, Buechner strongly rejected the idea.

“It has to be possible for the German chancellor to answer a question about what he thinks of the protests in a frank way,” he said. “I think the chancellor did this appropriately.”

Buechner said the German government remains committed to fighting climate change and protesters must abide by the law.

A United Nations spokesman said on Thursday that while governments have a duty to enforce the law, “people also have the fundamental right to demonstrate peacefully so that their voices can be heard.”

“And it’s clear that a lot of the progress that we’ve seen in climate change awareness and the positive climate change movement is due to the fact that people have been peacefully demonstrating all over the world,” Stéphane Dujarric told journalists in New York.

Environmental activists have said they plan more protests in Germany in the coming days.

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