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German Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has stepped down over allegations he breached confidentiality passing on information about an inquiry into child pornography.
The leak is now under scrutiny by the authorities.
In Friday’s hastily arranged press conference Friedrich told reporters he was convinced he acted correctly in both the political and legal senses and added such was the pressure now he did not think he could do his job as Minister of Agriculture with the required political support. He vowed he would be back in the political arena.
It’s claimed Friedrich, a member of the CSU – Merkel’s sister party passed on information when he was interior minister to Sigmar Gabriel the chairman of the Social Democrat Party, telling him fellow SPD lawmaker Sebastian Edathy was the target of a child pornography probe. Gabriel then told other senior members of his party.
Edathy has denied any wrongdoing and has left parliament.
At the time of the alleged breach of confidence the SPD were in coalition talks with Merkel’s conservatives.
In a short statement the chancellor said she accepted the resignation with “great respect and great regret”.
Analysts said Friedrich’s move could aggravate tension in Berlin’s new “grand coalition.”