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Minister in hot water over child-porn leaks

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AFP

German Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich arrives for the start of the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin. Picture: PATRIK STOLLARZ

Berlin -

A German government minister was under fire on Friday for leaking information about an international child-porn investigation in which a member of parliament has been named.

Opponents demanded the resignation of Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, charging he passed on confidential police data when he was interior minister.

If he were to resign, it would be the first major blow to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government, which was sworn in in December.

The SPD parliamentarian, Sebastian Edathy, 44, resigned his seat at the start of this week, but denied the crime allegations.

The SPD also faces questions over its use of the tip-off. Edathy was a rising star in his party with expertise in interior policy. Friedrich, a member of Merkel's conservatives, learned last October that a rising Social Democratic parliamentarian was being investigated as part of a Canadian crackdown on a global child-porn ring.

Friedrich, who belongs to the Bavaria-based Christian Social Union (CSU), told the leadership of the Social Democrats (SPD) about the investigation. Merkel was at the time trying to woo the SPD into her a coalition.

The investigation was leaked to the media this week.

“He obviously disclosed a secret,” said Britta Hasselmann of the opposition Green Party.

“That's not compatible with the office of interior minister.”

The opposition Left Party demanded that he resign. Police have received complaints that Friedrich breached secrecy laws.

Horst Seehofer, the Bavarian premier and CSU leader, flew to Berlin in a sign of the seriousness of the crisis and m et with senior aides. Sources told dpa that Friedrich might be asked to attend. - Sapa-dpa


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