German authorities yesterday said a 20-year-old hacker had confessed to stealing and leaking private data from hundreds of politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, because he was “annoyed” by some of their public statements. The young German, who is still studying and lives with his parents, was detained after police searched the family home in the western state of Hesse on Sunday.
The suspect was not remanded in custody however because he is fully cooperating and not deemed a flight risk, said Georg Ungefuk, a spokesman for the Frankfurt prosecution service’s internet crime office ZIT. “The accused said he published the data because he had been annoyed by certain statements made by those affected,” Ungefuk told a press conference in Wiesbaden. The suspect, who because of his age falls under juvenile law in Germany, told police he acted alone.
He stands accused of spying and illegally publishing personal data. Ungefuk said the accused had made a “comprehensive” confession and shown “clear remorse” about the stunning cyber security breach which hit around 1,000 politicians, journalists and celebrities and piled political pressure on the government.
AfD not targeted
The information leaked online comprised home addresses, mobile phone numbers, letters, invoices and copies of identity documents. The data was first released via Twitter in December but its spread gathered pace last week. Among those affected were members of the Bundestag lower house of parliament and the European Parliament as well as regional and local assemblies.
Deputies from all parties in the Bundestag were targeted with the exception of the farright Alternative for Germany (AfD), the largest opposition group. The head of cyber security at Germany’s Federal Police Office (BKA), Heiko Loehr, said: “We are still investigating his motives and whether they may have been criminal or politically motivated,” he told reporters, adding that police were also working to confirm whether the suspect did indeed work alone.