German police eye far-left activists in fire at Tesla site

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German police are investigating whether a fire that broke out overnight at the construction site of Tesla’s first European gigafactory had a political motive, after far-left activists claimed responsibility.

The fire at Gruenheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg early Wednesday morning damaged several power cables leading to the Tesla site and an area of around 3 square meters, said a spokesman for the LKA state criminal investigation office.

The spokesman said arson was not being ruled out and investigators were examining a letter that circulated on social media Wednesday and claimed responsibility.

The letter, which was published on a radical left platform, said it had cut the power supply to the Tesla site by setting fire to six high-voltage cables above ground.

“Tesla is neither green, ecological nor social,” said the letter, according to the LKA spokeman.

A road sign reading "Tesla Street" standing at the edge of the Tesla factory construction outside Berlin, where authorities are now probing a possible arson fire set by far-left activists.
A road sign reading “Tesla Street” standing at the edge of the Tesla factory construction outside Berlin, where authorities are now probing a possible arson fire set by far-left activists.
Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Tesla, which has said it could produce up to 500,000 Model Y cars at the site annually, delayed the opening of its gigafactory to late 2021 from an initial July 1 date after adding plans to set up a battery cell plant there.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has complained about German red tape needed for lengthy approval processes after construction of the factory was held up by environmentalists concerned about local wildlife and water resources.

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