World Bulletin / News Desk
The federal prosecutor also said that the leaked information did not meet any other criteria constituting treason.
The two bloggers, Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister, are from the Netzpolitik.org news website, which covers online privacy and digital culture. Both were investigated for quoting an intelligence report on the expansion of a national online snooping program.
The website was advised of the ongoing probe in July, as an official complaint was filed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s intelligence agency, targeting two articles published on the website on February 25 and April 15. The stories focused on a €2.75 million ($3 million) increase in BfV’s budget dedicated to the expansion of web surveillance programs, with a focus on social networks.
The reporters were accused under section 94 of the German criminal code, which stipulates a minimum punishment of one year in prison up to a maximum sentence of life behind bars.
The website appealed for public support after being informed of the probe’s existence. The investigation quickly met with heavy criticism in Germany, with free-speech advocates staging a massive online response. Thousands of internet users spoke out in support of the bloggers, adopting the hashtag #Landesverrat.
In addition, hundreds of protestors filled the streets of Berlin in the beginning of August to show their support for the pair.
The investigation also caused heavy internal political and legal tensions in Germany, as the Justice Minister, Heiko Maas, disputed the decision to open a treason inquiry in the first place.