Jail term over spying at German phone company

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A German court jailed Deutsche Telekom's former head of security for three and half years on Tuesday over a scandal that saw the national telecoms giant spy on dozens of journalists and union officials.

Klaus Trzeschan, convicted by a court in Bonn, western Germany, for breaking data confidentiality laws, was the only person to face trial for his part in a scandal that saw the firm illegally track phone calls in 2005 and 2006.

Prosecutors earlier dropped an investigation into the chief executive of Europe's biggest phone company at the time of the spying, Kai-Uwe Ricke, and then-chairman of the board Klaus Zumwinkel.

Deutsche Telekom admitted in 2008 having hired an outside company to track phone calls made by reporters and labour representatives on its supervisory board in order to try and find the source of leaks to the media.

Lothar Schroeder from trade union ver.di, who was one of those spied on, welcomed the ruling but said that more should have been done to investigate the role of senior management, particularly Ricke and Zumwinkel.

"We find it hard to believe that those in management did not share some responsibility," Schroeder said in a statement.

© 2010 AFP

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