The German Federal Prosecutor’s Office officially opened an investigation into two of the portal’s journalists in late July, after they quoted secret documents detailing plans to extend the government's illegal online surveillance practices. The treason investigation caused widespread public outcry, sparking fears that it could threaten press freedom in the country.
According to the media outlet, Merkel and her office were informed about the probe on April 21. In July, following the publication of an article about the investigation by the newspaper ZEIT, the office officially stated that it was “surprised and angered,” by the news.
The Netzpolitik case occurred several months after German media revealed that the country's intelligence agency, BND, had provided technical assistance to the US National Security Agency (NSA) with its mass surveillance programs in Europe. To date, no one has been charged in connection to the wide-reaching BND spy scandal.