German agriculture minister to resign - government sources

Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:32am EST
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BERLIN Feb 14 (Reuters) - Germany's Agriculture Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich will announce his resignation on Friday over allegations he acted inappropriately in the case of a lawmaker who is under investigation for possessing child pornography, government sources told Reuters.

The Social Democrat (SPD) lawmaker, Sebastian Edathy, has denied having any child pornography in his possession. The 44-year-old Edathy resigned from parliament last week, citing health reasons. Friedrich is expected to give a statement at 5 p.m. (1600 GMT).

What started as a small domestic scandal about an MP erupted into a major political scandal on Thursday when it emerged that Friedrich, who was interior minister until December, had informed SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel in October that Edathy could become the target of an investigation.

Friedrich, a member of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), has said he believes he acted in accordance with the law by informing the SPD, which was in coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives at the time.

But public prosecutors in Berlin are examining whether to start a full investigation into Friedrich for possible breach of confidentiality relating to the Edathy case.