The investigation of two journalists on the German digital rights news site Netzpolitik.org for alleged treason was halted Friday by Germany’s prosecutor general, Harald Range, following widespread protests by the media and politicians. The Guardian reports that Range said he was pausing inquiries “for the good of press and media freedom” and that he would “await the results of an internal investigation into whether the journalists from the news platform netzpolitik.org had quoted from a classified intelligence report before deciding how to proceed.”
The head of German intelligence services, Hans-Georg Maassen, still defended the idea of bringing criminal charges against the site’s writers. He told the German weekly Bild am Sonntag “to continue the fight against extremism and terrorism…it was necessary to guard against the publication of documents classified as confidential or secret.”
As Ars reported last Thursday, Netzpolitik.org published two leaked documents earlier this year detailing plans to expand surveillance of social networks by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, of which Maassen is president. Initially, the investigation was believed to be into whoever was responsible for the leaks, but the search was widened last week to include two Netzpolitik.org journalists: Markus Beckedahl, the site’s editor-in-chief, and Andre Meister.
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