Hackers publish data of hundreds of German politicians

Dietmar Bartsch was hit by hackers

Personal data and documents from hundreds of German politicians and public figures including Chancellor Angela Merkel have been published online in what appears to be one of Germany's most far-reaching data breaches.

ARD said that, after a first review of the data, journalists had not detected any incriminating content.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, outgoing leader of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) party on 3 January 2019. He said there was no indication that federal government or parliament computer systems were compromised.

The daily Bild and public broadcaster RBB first reported the leak.

"The people behind this want to damage confidence in our democracy and institutions", she said.

According to a preliminary investigation, "no sensitive information or data" had been leaked from Merkel's office, Fietz said.

"The government is taking this incident very seriously", Merkel's deputy spokeswoman Martina Fietz said.

The Interior Ministry says the leak appears to have originated via a hacked email account, social networking or cloud service.

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It said the Twitter account used to spread the data had been deleted, but that it was still pressing for the deletion of links to data on other platforms.

The German government warned that some of the leaked documents could have been doctored, and said it's still verifying all the leaked data. The Twitter account describes itself with labels such as security research, artist and satire.

The hack affected members of all German political parties with the exception of Alternative for Germany (AfD), the country's far-right political group.

A German YouTube star whose Twitter account, @unge, was hijacked last week to disseminate links to the stolen material, said Saturday it appeared human error was to blame in his case. Past year he won a court case brought by AfD leader Alice Weidel, who complained when he called her a "slut" on his TV show.

It's unclear why no one was aware of the data leak until Friday.

While the matter remains under investigation, fingers have already been pointed in the press to both right-wing political groups, and Russian Federation.

It also impacted the European, German and state parliaments as well as municipal officials and celebrities.

However, the fact that no right-wing politicians were targeted while prominent figures who had criticised them had been, suggested domestic right-wingers may also have been responsible, he told the BBC.

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