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German prosecutor sacked over Netzpolitik treason probe

August 4, 2015 6:14 pm

Germany’s justice minister has sacked the country’s top prosecutor, who had accused the government of interfering with a treason investigation.

Heiko Maas said he no longer had confidence in Harald Range, dismissing his statements as “incomprehensible”.

Prosecutors are investigating whether the Netzpolitik website revealed state secrets in articles about plans to step up state surveillance.

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News of the case sparked street protests last week over press freedom.

The outcry put the government on the back foot, with senior officials stressing that Germany was committed to press freedom and casting doubts over whether the articles constituted treason.

‘Intolerable’

Earlier on Tuesday, in a rare public row between the German judiciary and the state, Mr Range said the government had asked him to drop an independent investigator from the inquiry, who concluded that one of the articles published did amount to a disclosure of a state secret.

The request, said Mr Range, amounted to “an intolerable encroachment on the independence of the judiciary”.

He said that while the freedom of press was valuable it was not “limitless”.

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