Germany has suspended a treason investigation into the Netzpolitik news website while an expert decides whether articles it published earlier this year on plans to increase state surveillance of online communications are a revelation of state secrets.
The probe was opened after a criminal complaint by the domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas said he “told the Federal Prosecutor” that he had “doubts about whether the journalists intended to disadvantage Germany or advantage a foreign power with their publication.”
Netzpolitik is believed to have quoted from an intelligence report categorized as “classified document – confidential” that proposed a new unit to monitor the Internet, particularly social networks.
One of the accused journalists involved, Markus Beckedahl explained that “since the start of the Snowden revelations, the German government has tried to make it clear that it has had nothing to do with him, but at the same time Germany’s secret services have calculatingly released secret documents. And now they’re going after anybody who is trying to reveal what’s going on.”
The German press association has accused the federal prosecutor’s office of attacking press freedom.
Netzpolitik specialises in Internet politics, data protection, freedom of information and digital rights issues.