German investigators detain 2 men who allegedly tried to blackmail the family of Michael Schumacher

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BERLIN — Two men who allegedly tried blackmailing the family of Formula 1 great Michael Schumacher were detained earlier this month, German prosecutors said Monday.

Prosecutors in the western German city of Wuppertal said the suspects told employees of the family that they were in possession of files that the family wouldn't want to be published, German news agency dpa reported.

The two men allegedly demanded a payment of several million euros or said they would otherwise publish the files on the darknet, prosecutors said.

As alleged proof, the suspects sent some files to the family, prosecutors said. They didn't give further details on the content of the files.

Thanks to "technical measures," investigators were able to track down the suspects, a father and a son from Wuppertal, ages 53 and 30, who are both on probation in another case, dpa reported. They were detained on June 19 on a supermarket parking lot in the central town of Gross-Gerau and are in custody. Their names weren't given in line with German privacy rules.

"If convicted, they face a fine or prison sentence of up to five years," chief public prosecutor Wolf-Tilman Baumert said, according to dpa.

Schumacher suffered a near-fatal brain injury while skiing in the French Alps at Meribel in December 2013. He had fallen and his head hit a rock, which split open his helmet. Since being transferred from a hospital in September 2014, the seven-time F1 champion has been cared for privately at a family home in Switzerland.

The 55-year-old Schumacher retired from F1 in 2012 after winning 91 races, and five straight titles with Ferrari from 2000-04. The German driver's other two titles were with Benetton in 1994 and 1995.

Last month, Schumacher's family won legal action against the publisher of a magazine which printed an artificial intelligence-generated interview with the F1 great.

German magazine Die Aktuelle promoted on its cover in April 2023 the words, "Michael Schumacher, the first interview!" It also wrote "it sounds deceptively real" with the supposed quotes attributed to Schumacher generated by AI. Die Aktuelle is one of many tabloid celebrity magazines in Germany.


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