The German justice ministry has formally announced the end of a treason investigation aimed at two journalists.
Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister, editors at Netzpolitik.org, were under investigation for publishing leaked documents relating to national surveillance plans.
The first, published in February, uncovered a €2.75m project for processing massive online data sets.
The other, from April, revealed plans for a 75-man unit to monitor Twitter and Facebook chats, as well as other communications.
Last week the Federal Attorney General, Harald Lange, was forced into retirement over the case, and on Monday the justice ministry stuck the knife in further, saying (auf Deutsch) that, contrary to Lange’s opinion, the leaked documents are “not state secrets within the meaning of the Criminal Code".
The investigation was prompted by a complaint from the country’s domestic spooks, the Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution (BfV).
Following the news, Beckedahl said that public attention may have protected the pair of journos – a public rally was held and donations came flooding in – but now it was time to protect those who leaked the documents.
“Now would be the right time to discuss improved whistleblower protection. Germany is still a developing country in this area,” he said in a blog post.
The pair also want to know whether or not there was actual surveillance of them and if so, exactly what information was gathered by whom. ®