German man confesses to leaking data of hundreds of politicians, Merkel

German authorities have arrested a 20-year-old suspect who confessed to his role in the massive online leak that revealed the personal data belonging to hundreds of German politicians, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The hacker, who authorities say lives with his parents and is not a computer expert, allegedly used passwords such as “Iloveyou” and “1234” to hack into online accounts of hundreds of politicians whose political views he disagrees with, according to reports. 


Germany's investigative police body, the BKA, said that the suspect "confessed to the accusations against him" and provided "information" on other crimes.

"The suspect was questioned on January 7 by the responsible prosecutor and BKA officials," the BKA said Tuesday in a statement, according to reports. "He extensively confessed to the accusations against him and provided helpful information beyond his own crimes."

“The accused said his motivation had been irritation over public statements made by the politicians, journalists and public figures affected,” Georg Ungefuk, a senior prosecutor, reportedly said.

The hack is considered one of the largest data leaks Germany has faced. The individuals in the hack were tied to left and centrist political parties and not Germany's populist right-wing party, Alternative for Germany, multiple German news outlets reported last week.

Despite the targets, the head of the BKA, President Holger Münch, said the suspect had no known ties to right-wing extremism in Germany and thus they were not considering the cyberattack to be a political crime, German website DW reported.

The BKA also reportedly searched the suspect's apartment on Sunday, shortly before he was taken into custody. 

German officials touted how quickly authorities located the suspect, which was within 48 hours of the leak's discovery on Jan. 3, and boasted about their ability to prevent the data from being further spread across the internet, according to the DW report.

But the incident has renewed scrutiny of Germany's cybersecurity following a series of serious cyberattacks, particularly due to the lack of sophistication this suspect claims to have had when he cracked the password to politicians' accounts.

Early last year, security experts said a hacking group widely believed to be linked to the Russian government has been executing cyberattacks against diplomats in North America and Europe, including Germany.

At the time, Germany reportedly disclosed that its security services discovered that Sofacy infiltrated its foreign and defense ministries in December.

"We can confirm that the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and intelligence services are investigating a cybersecurity incident concerning the federal government's information technology and networks," a German Interior Ministry spokesman said at the time, according to reports.

Sofacy is also believed to be the likely culprit behind other attacks on European countries, including a 2015 attack on the German Parliament as well as NATO. Russia has denied involvement in the attacks.