BERLIN — A senior Germany security official has resigned after stumbling over an affair involving a gun he once purchased from a man suspected of involvement in a far-right network.

In a statement Tuesday the interior minister in Germany's northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lorenz Caffier, denied having any links to right-wing extremists, but acknowledged making errors in his handling of the incident.

Asked last week by a reporter from German daily Tageszeitung to confirm whether he had purchased a hunting pistol from a member of the so-called Nordkreuz group, Caffier had insisted the issue was a "private matter," prompting widespread criticism.

The Nordkreuz group, whose name in German means Northern Cross, had been preparing for a possible collapse of the German state and ensuing violent unrest, during which they planned to target political enemies.

Caffier, who was in the post for 14 years, oversaw the work of police and intelligence agencies tasked with investigating the group.

In his statement, Caffier said he was resigning to "protect my family, the people around me and my staff" and to "avert damage from the government." He blasted what he called "unrestrained reporting" in the case.