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    Founder of German news blog Netzpolitik org (Net politics), Markus Beckedahl (R), and one of the blog's authors, Andre Meister, pose for a picture in their editorial office in Berlin on August 4, 2015

    Merkel Knew of Netzpolitik Website Treason Probe From Very Beginning

    © AFP 2016/ BRITTA PEDERSEN
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    German Chancellor’s office was informed about the probe launched against a number of Netzpolitik news portal journalists on April 21 - months before it became public.

    Markus Beckedahl, founder of the website Netzpolitik.org, right, and author of a blog Andre Meister, left, pose in their office in Berlin, Germany
    © AP Photo/ Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP
    BERLIN (Sputnik) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office was aware of the treason probe launched against a number of Netzpolitik news portal journalists months before it was made public, Der Spiegel news website reported Thursday.

    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.

    On August 10, the prosecution decided to drop the investigation, saying that the documents in fact were not "top secret," according to local media.

    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.

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    netzpolitik.org, Angela Merkel, Germany
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