[JURIST] Germany’s acting top federal prosecutor on Monday dropped a much-criticized treason investigation into two prominent journalists working for Netzpolitik.org [media website, in German]. In July, Netzpolitik, a blog on digital rights issues, announced that two of its journalists, Andre Meister and Markus Beckedahl [professional profiles, in German], were being investigated for suspicion of treason. The investigation was opened [press release, in German] after Germany’s domestic intelligence agency filed a complaint based on reports from leaked documents on the blog’s website. Harald Range [official profile, in German], then chief federal prosecutor, received significant criticism for the inquiry, and was fired [JURIST report] by justice minister Heiko Maas after openly alleging political interference. On Monday, acting chief federal prosecutor Gerhard Altvater said that the documents published by the blog, detailing plans to set up state surveillance of online communications, did not constitute state secrets and that all charges were dropped [Netzpolitik report, in German].
Surveillance has been a worldwide topic of discussion particularly after Edward Snowden leaked top-secret [JURIST report] NSA documents in 2013. In July 2014 the German government summoned [JURIST report] the US ambassador John B. Emerson after the arrest of a man who is claimed to be a US spy working surveillance throughout the country. In January 2014 the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) found [JURIST report] that the NSA’s phone surveillance program was illegal. In June 2013 the ACLU in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit [JURIST report] against the NSA challenging its phone data collection. Countries like Brazil and Germany have passed legislation [JURIST report] aimed at eliminating privacy invasions due to excessive surveillance programs and data collection.