Child porn scandal erupts in Berlin

2014-02-14 22:40
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Berlin - A German cabinet minister was under intense pressure on Friday over suspicions he might have breached official secrecy in a widening scandal sparked by an international child porn investigation.

Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, in his former post as interior minister, tipped off the party leader of a prominent lawmaker whose name had cropped up in an international probe, Friedrich's spokesperson said.

The move dates back to October, a month after German general elections when Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives were in the process of building a coalition government with the centre-left Social Democrats.

Friedrich, a conservative ally of Merkel in her left-right "grand coalition", insisted on Friday he did not believe he had done anything wrong politically or legally but said he would resign if a legal inquiry was launched.

Merkel had held an "intensive discussion" with Friedrich on Friday, said her spokesperson Steffen Seibert, adding that the minister "is aware of the dimension of the case".

Global investigation

The case has blown up after news broke earlier this week that searches as part of a child pornography investigation had been carried out at the home and offices of Social Democrat (SPD) lawmaker Sebastian Edathy.

German media have linked the probe to a global investigation into a Canadian child porn website.

Edathy - who has gained prominence for heading a parliamentary panel into the shock 2011 discovery of a neo-Nazi killer cell - had stepped down from his Bundestag seat days earlier citing health reasons.

He has vehemently denied in an internet-posted statement being in possession of child pornography.

Public prosecutors said on Friday their investigation into Edathy related to allegations he had obtained material that "bordered" on child pornography.



Read more on:    germany  |  child abuse
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