Berlin (dpa) – Germany’s Defence Ministry has confirmed that the data on a mobile phone of former defence minister and now European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been deleted.
The reason for this was a “security incident,” a spokesperson for the ministry said in Berlin on Friday, adding the politician – from the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) – had then been given a new phone.
The deletion of the mobile phone’s data, which had first been reported on by the newspaper Die Welt, emerged during a non-public session of the parliamentary committee that is looking into alleged irregularities involving the hiring of external IT advisors by the ministry, when von der Leyen was in office.
“Former minister von der Leyen had two service mobile phones,” the defence ministry spokesman said. The first service phone’s data had been deleted after telephone numbers of politicians became public.
“Thereupon she had to return that phone,” said the spokesman, adding that it was in line with standard security regulations to then erase the data. The second phone she received is “still under lock and key at the ministry,” the spokesman said.
The deletion should prevent further security incidents. “Whether it will be reset or shredded, I cannot tell you,” the spokesman explained.
The question of whether the data on the second mobile phone is still accessible is a subject for the investigation committee, he said.
In January, a large-scale data theft in Germany resulted in the personal data of hundreds of public figures being published on a Twitter account, including artists, presenters, Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the then minister of defence.