The German government on Friday revealed that sensitive data of hundreds of politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, had been leaked online, AFP reported. The details included personal addresses, mobile phone numbers, letters, invoices and copies of identity documents. They were published online via Twitter in December but only came to light this week.
“Personal data and documents belonging to hundreds of politicians and public figures were published on the internet,” said spokesperson Martina Fietz. “The government is taking this incident very seriously.”
According to a preliminary investigation, “no sensitive information or data” had been leaked from Merkel’s office, Fietz said. She said those affected included deputies of all parties represented in the Bundestag Lower House of Parliament, leaders of the European Parliament as well as regional and local assemblies. Others whose data was leaked included several celebrities and journalists.
Leaders of all political parties, except those of the far-right Alternative for Germany, had had their details leaked, The Guardian reported, citing news magazine Spiegel.
The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the domestic intelligence service said they were investigating the leak and that parliamentary group leaders were informed on Thursday. “The BSI is currently intensively examining the case in close cooperation with other federal authorities,” the agency tweeted on Friday. “The National Cyber Defense Center has taken over the central coordination. According to current information, government networks have not been targeted.”
Public broadcaster RBB, which was the first with daily Bild to report the leak, said, “At first glance it does not seem that politically sensitive material was included.”
While the data theft continued until the end of October, Bild said it was not known when it had started. “However, the damage is likely to be massive given the volume of personal data published,” it said.
The details were published through a Twitter account that uploaded links daily in the form of an advent calendar, with each entry representing a “door” leading to new information. The Hamburg-based account, calling itself G0d, was opened in 2017 and has more than 18,000 followers.