16.05.2020, Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart: Michael Ballweg, Initiator der Initiative «Querdenken», spricht bei einer Protestkundgebung der Initiative "Querdenken" auf dem Cannstatter Wasen zu anwesenden. Die Demo richtet sich gegen die Corona-Beschränkungen und für Grundrechte wie Versammlungsfreiheit und Glaubensfreiheit. Foto: Christoph Schmidt/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The “lateral thinking” founder Michael Ballweg has been arrested in Stuttgart. The public prosecutor’s office of the state capital of Baden-Württemberg confirmed to the Tagesspiegel that emergency services carried out a house search on Wednesday morning. The suspect is accused of fraud and money laundering. As the Tagesspiegel learned from investigators, it should be about the 47-year-old Ballweg, who lives in Stuttgart.

Several well-known actors from the “lateral thinking” network, such as the lawyer Bodo Schiffmann, confirmed the search of Ballweg’s apartment building via the Telegram messenger service.

Schiffmann has appeared at numerous demonstrations with Ballweg in recent years and spread conspiracy ideologies about the corona pandemic. First, “lateral thinking” supporters called for a solidarity protest in front of Ballweg’s house via Telegram. This appeal has since been withdrawn.

While Schiffmann fled to Tanzania last year, there had been speculation in recent months that Ballweg would emigrate. It cannot be ruled out that the authorities are now moving out to prevent Ballweg from leaving the country.

The 47-year-old is considered the founder of the “lateral thinking” movement, which began in Stuttgart. At the beginning of the corona pandemic, thousands of people gathered at the Canstatter Wasn in the Baden-Württemberg state capital in spring 2020 to demonstrate against the current corona measures.

As a result, local “lateral thinking” offshoots were founded all over the Federal Republic, which regularly called for demonstrations. Counter-demonstrators, police officers and journalists were repeatedly attacked as part of the protests critical of the measures.