Germany announces arrest in hacking, data leak

Authorities arrested a 20-year-old man for hacking into and leaking the information of nearly 1,000 German politicians and other public officials, federal investigative officials said Tuesday.

Holger Münch, president of Germany's federal criminal police office, Arne Schoenbohm, president of the federal office for security in information technology, and German Minister of Interior, Construction and Homeland Horst Seehofer attend a press conference about the arrest of a man suspected of spying and unauthorized publication of personal data of politicians, journalists and public figures, in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday. Photo by Adam Berry
Holger Münch, president of Germany’s federal criminal police office, Arne Schoenbohm, president of the federal office for security in information technology, and German Minister of Interior, Construction and Homeland Horst Seehofer attend a press conference about the arrest of a man suspected of spying and unauthorized publication of personal data of politicians, journalists and public figures, in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday. Photo by Adam Berry

The man, whose name was not revealed, faces charges of stealing and illegally publishing private data.
“The suspect was questioned on January 7 by the responsible prosecutor and BKA officials,” Germany’s federal investigative police, Bundeskriminalamt or BKA, said in a statement. “He extensively confessed to the accusations against him and provided helpful information beyond his own crimes.”

Earlier this month, authorities said a hacker exposed personal correspondence, addresses, cellphone contact numbers, bank and financial details, identification cards, job applications and party memorandums of hundreds of politicians, political parties, journalists, comedians and musicians in December.
Among those affected were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greens Party leader Robert Habeck. Only the far-right Alternative for Germany Party was unaffected.

Georg Ungefuk, a spokesman for the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office, said the suspect, who lives in Hesse with his parents, targeted people who “angered” him. He said police arrested the suspect Sunday and released him because he didn’t appear to be a flight risk.

BKA President Holger Münch said the suspect had no-known ties to extremism so authorities were not treating the hack as a political crime.
Deputy Interior Minister Stephan Mayer said government computer networks had not been targeted by the attack.

“One bit of positive news is that government networks are apparently not affected by this or these hacker attacks,” Mayer said. “But it’s clear that we as the federal government … must do more to improve cybersecurity.”

ByDanielle Haynes