The personal data and documents of hundreds of politicians and public figures in Germany have been exposed online, a government spokeswoman said Friday. Others whose data was leaked included several celebrities and journalists.
The police and intelligence services have opened an investigation and the Federal Prosecutor's Office said that it was ready to begin proceedings should agents of a foreign power be involved.
Hackers have stolen the private data of German politicians from every political party except for the far-right Alternative for Deutschland (AFD) and published the information on Twitter. The Twitter account used to spread the personal data has since been deleted.
The German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was among those targeted by the leaks.
Katarina Barley, the German justice minister, said: "Those responsible want to damage confidence in our democracy and their institutions". The security source told Bild that the government's networks were not fending off any sustained attack.
German cyber-security analyst Sven Herpig said Russian Federation was a suspect, first because of the method used but also because Germany was facing four state elections in 2019 as well as elections to the European Parliament.
"There is evidence of a number of phishing attacks and data leaks collected over a sustained period of time", he said.
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Fietz told a government press conference that an initial analysis suggested the leak affected politicians of all levels including the European parliament, German parliament and regional parliaments.
The local media report also mentioned that there was no particular system that hackers followed to release the hacked data.
The large-scale attack affected nearly every German political party.
But he warned the amount of documents and personal data leaked could still have a considerable impact.
Though the Twitter account was suspended, the hacker provided multiple back-up links for people to download the breached files.
Among them was Hajo Seppelt, an ARD investigative reporter who broke the story about alleged state-sponsored doping in Russian sports in 2016.