German federal prosecutors have dropped a much-criticized treason investigation of two journalists over their reports on secret plans to expand online surveillance in Germany.

Website Netzpolitik.org was notified of the investigation of its founder and another journalist in late July.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas questioned federal prosecutors' decision to open a treason probe, and last week fired chief federal prosecutor Harald Range after the two clashed over allegations by Range of political interference.

The federal prosecutor's office said Monday that it is closing the case because it believes the leaked documents the website's reports were based on were not a "state secret" and other conditions for treason charges also were not fulfilled.

German officials have taken pains to stress their commitment to press freedom amid widespread criticism of the probe.