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German prosecutor accuses government of interfering in treason probe against 2 journalists

  • Germany's  chief federal  prosecutor  Harald Range speaks to journalists  in Karlsruhe, Germany,  Tuesday Aug. 4, 2015.  Range  is accusing the government of interfering in a much-criticized treason investigation against two journalists. ( Ralf Stockhoff/dpa via AP)

    Germany's chief federal prosecutor Harald Range speaks to journalists in Karlsruhe, Germany, Tuesday Aug. 4, 2015. Range is accusing the government of interfering in a much-criticized treason investigation against two journalists. ( Ralf Stockhoff/dpa via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Germany's chief federal prosecutor  Harald Range speaks to journalists  in Karlsruhe, Germany,  Tuesday Aug. 4, 2015.  Range  is accusing the government of interfering in a much-criticized treason investigation against two journalists.   (Ralf Stockhoff/dpa via AP)

    Germany's chief federal prosecutor Harald Range speaks to journalists in Karlsruhe, Germany, Tuesday Aug. 4, 2015. Range is accusing the government of interfering in a much-criticized treason investigation against two journalists. (Ralf Stockhoff/dpa via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Germany's  chief federal  prosecutor  Harald Range speaks to journalists  in Karlsruhe, Germany,  Tuesday Aug. 4, 2015.  German Justice Minister Heiko Maas says he will request the dismissal and retirement of chief federal prosecutor Harald Range. Maas said Tuesday he made the decision after consultations with Chancellor Angela Merkel's office. The Justice Ministry has questioned Range's decision to open a treason investigation against two journalists who had reported that Germany's domestic spy agency plans to expand surveillance of online communication. ( Ralf Stockhoff/dpa via AP)

    Germany's chief federal prosecutor Harald Range speaks to journalists in Karlsruhe, Germany, Tuesday Aug. 4, 2015. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas says he will request the dismissal and retirement of chief federal prosecutor Harald Range. Maas said Tuesday he made the decision after consultations with Chancellor Angela Merkel's office. The Justice Ministry has questioned Range's decision to open a treason investigation against two journalists who had reported that Germany's domestic spy agency plans to expand surveillance of online communication. ( Ralf Stockhoff/dpa via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Germany's chief federal prosecutor is accusing the government of interfering in a much-criticized treason investigation against two journalists.

News of the probe against two journalists for website Netzpolitik.org emerged last week. At issue are two reports revealing the domestic spy agency's plans to expand surveillance of online communication. The agency filed a criminal complaint.

The Justice Ministry has questioned prosecutor Harald Range's decision to open the investigation. Range said Tuesday that the ministry ordered him to withdraw an independent expert from the case who determined that the leaked documents in the reports were a "state secret," one requirement for a treason case.

Range said he complied but "influencing investigations because their possible result does not appear politically opportune is an intolerable intervention in judicial independence." The ministry didn't immediately respond.