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Germany: Greens' foreign and economy ministers targeted by hackers

Hackers breached the system used by Germany's Greens and gained access to accounts previously used by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economy Minister Robert Habeck, party officials said.

Habeck and Baerbock smile to each other at a Greens party conference in January

The Green party, previously led by Baerbock (l) and Habeck did not say who was behind the attack

A cyberattack on Germany's Greens, a member of the country's ruling coalition, compromised accounts previously used by Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, the party confirmed on Saturday.

The two Green politicians served as the party's co-leaders before moving to senior Cabinet posts: Baerbock is now foreign minister, while Habeck is in charge of the economy and particularly the energy sector. After the war in Ukraine started in February, the ministers came to play key roles in Berlin's confrontation with Russia as Germany scrambles to gain independence from Russian energy sources and coordinate the EU's efforts to aid Kyiv.

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Another 12 accounts were also compromised — including those belonging to current party co-chiefs Ricarda Lang and Omid Nouripour — and some emails have been forwarded outside the system, according to the Greens.

Accounts of Baerbock and Habeck inactive for months

The hack was first reported by Germany's Der Spiegel magazine earlier this week. The magazine also cited early indications that the attack might have originated in Russia. But the party stopped short of confirming this, citing an ongoing investigation.

"We have informed security authorities, the [German government's] data protection officer, and have made a police report," a party spokesman said.

The attack was first noticed on May 30, according to the party. They said that Baerbock and Habeck hadn't actively used their party accounts since January and that network logs showed no increase in traffic volumes that could indicate large amounts of data had been stolen.

According to Der Spiegel, federal investigators and authorities in Berlin, which is also one of Germany's 16 states, have opened an investigation into potential spying and data tampering.

German politicians have been repeatedly targeted by hackers in recent years. A massive attack, reported in early 2019, targeted hundreds of people from across the political spectrum, including Germany's then chancellor, Angela Merkel. The chancellor's communications were also intercepted by the US intelligence agency the NSA under President Barack Obama, one of the many revelations made public by Edward Snowden in 2013.

dj/msh (dpa, Reuters, AFP)