German mass data attack 'known for weeks' by cyber officials

A spokeswoman for Merkel said the government was taking the matter 'very seriously'

A spokeswoman for Merkel said the government was taking the matter 'very seriously'

It was also not clear how the data was obtained, German officials said.

The Interior Ministry says the leak appears to have originated via a hacked email account, social networking or cloud service.

German officials said that there are now no suspects in the case.

In a statement, the agency acknowledged it was approached by one lawmaker about suspicious activity on his private email and social media accounts in early December, but said it believed at the time his experience was a one-off case.

Twitter deleted the account on Friday.

Although the data reportedly include information such as internal party communications and in some cases personal financial records and credit card details - some of the data years old - RBB said there appeared to be no politically sensitive documents.

The BSI said on Friday all but one of the seven parties in the lower house had been affected. The information was released through links published on Twitter in the form of an Advent calendar, beginning on December 1 with information about the German television comedian Jan Bohmermann, and ending with members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right party and its Bavarian counterpart.

"Personal data and documents belonging to hundreds of politicians and public figures have been published online", government spokeswoman Martina Fietz told a news conference.

According to media reports, all German parties represented in the Bundestag were hit by the hacker operation, except for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Federal Prosecutor General have launched investigations.

The daily Bild and public broadcaster RBB first reported the leak.

The entire cabinet of Angela Merkel's administration, as well as the chancellor herself, had private information published, including private e-mails, mobile phone numbers, private addresses and business letters, Bild reported.

The ministry indicated, too, that it is still not clear whether the attack was the result of hacking or was leaked by someone with access.

Cybersecurity analysts compared the hack in scale and affected population to that of prominent U.S. Democrats including Hillary Clinton presidential campaign workers and other Americans targeted by state-backed Russian hackers in 2015-2016.

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