FRANKFURT - Twitter has blocked messages in Germany from a group banned by local authorities over right-wing extremism, using its powers to withhold content in one specific country for the first time.

"The account and all its content have been blocked for Germany, the content remains visible to Twitter users in other countries," a spokesman for Twitter said.

Twitter announced plans for its so-called "Country Withheld Content" function earlier this year, which allows it to remove illegal content for one specific country, saying it believed that keeping messages up in other places would serve freedom of expression, transparency and accountability.

The spokesman said the move to block messages from the German group - which calls itself Besseres Hannover, which means "a better Hanover" - came at the request of police in the northern German city of Hanover.

Public prosecutors searched the homes of more than 20 suspected members of the group last month who are accused of forming a criminal organization with the intention of committing crimes. According to Hanover police, the group was banned on Sept. 25 and ordered to halt all its activities.

Authorities and residents across Germany have become more sensitive to the threat of far-right militants since revelations last year that a neo-Nazi cell waged a seven-year racist killing spree through the country, murdering nine people, mostly of Turkish origin.

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