Germany's Top Prosecutor Sacked over Treason Probe Row

EU | August 5, 2015, Wednesday // 08:10|  views

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas speaks to journalists about the treason investigation against the blog in Berlin, Germany, August 4, 2015. Photo by EPA/BGNES

German Attorney General Harald Range has been fired over his comments on the government's action with regard to a treason investigation carried out against journalists.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday announced he would propose to the country's President that Range be dismissed after the latter had accused the cabinet of meddling in the work of the judiciary, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The developments followed reports by the website which ran articles about plans to step up surveillance of citizens.

This prompted the top prosecutor to launch an inquiry into whether actions of the website were tantamount to the disclosure of a state secret.

While the government insisted that the inquiry should be left to the Justice Ministry, Range maintained it should be assigned to an independent expert. On Friday the two sides had agreed that the former option will be applied.

On Tuesday, however, Range said he had been asked to drop the independent investigator, a move he described as "intolerable", accusing the cabinet of siding with the journalists.

For his part Minister Maas argued that on Friday Range had already agreed to take the step and called his message "incomprehensible".

Under Germany's Criminal Code, "high treason" consists of the ability of an unauthorized person or structure to put national security under threat or the act of handing out state secrets (these are "facts, objects or intelligence data to which a limited circle of people have access and should be kept secret from an external force".

As a result of the investigation, a public debate was triggered on limits of press freedom, which most media outlets warned was in danger.

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Tags: Heiko Maas, Harald Range, Germany,, surveillance, state secret, high treason, press freedom


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