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April 24, 2014

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German prosecutors slam leaks in lawmaker probe

Updated Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 | 11:09 a.m.

BERLIN (AP) — Prosecutors in Germany said Thursday they are considering taking action after learning that senior politicians were tipped off to details of a confidential investigation into a prominent lawmaker.

Sebastian Edathy led a parliamentary panel last year investigating why police and intelligence services failed to stop a neo-Nazi murder spree, a case that sent shockwaves through Germany's security establishment. He resigned his seat as a lawmaker Friday, citing health reasons, days before police searched his home and offices.

Prosecutors haven't revealed the allegations against Edathy, but indicated that it was related to a wider criminal investigation.

Opposition parties called Thursday for clarity about who knew what, when, and whether Edathy was given advance warning of the police raid.

Thomas Oppermann, parliamentary leader of Edathy's Social Democrats, said that he, his predecessor Frank-Walter Steinmeier and party leader Sigmar Gabriel were made aware of the probe last October — a month after national elections. The information came from Hans-Peter Friedrich, who at the time was still interior minister.

Steinmeier has since become Germany's foreign minister, and Gabriel is vice-chancellor in a coalition with Angela Merkel's conservatives.

Oppermann said he never told Edathy of the probe.

Hannover prosecutors' spokeswoman Kathrin Soefker said investigators were "surprised and shocked" by Oppermann's comments and are discussing "possible consequences."