Michael Schumacher: Arrests made over plot to blackmail F1 legend's family

24 June 2024, 15:30 | Updated: 24 June 2024, 17:40

Two men have been detained after being accused of trying to blackmail the family of Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher.

German prosecutors revealed on Monday the father and son had been held last month after telling employees of the family they were in possession of files the family would not want published, according to German news agency dpa.

The suspects allegedly said they would publish the files on the darknet if they were not paid several million euros.

Some of the files were sent to the family as alleged proof, prosecutors said. It is not clear what was contained within the files.

The two men, who are aged 53 and 30 and from the German city of Wuppertal, were tracked down by investigators to a supermarket car park in the central town of Gross-Gerau.

Their names have not been given in line with German privacy rules, but they were already on probation in another case.

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

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Details of Schumacher's condition have been kept closely guarded by his family after he was involved in a near-fatal skiing accident in December 2013.

The seven-time F1 champion suffered a brain injury when he fell and hit his head on a rock, splitting his helmet open, while he was skiing in the French Alps at Meribel.

He has been cared for privately at a family home in Switzerland since leaving hospital in September 2014.

Schumacher has made no public appearances since his accident more than a decade ago and it does not appear likely he will, as his family has repeatedly appealed for privacy.

The 55-year-old retired from F1 in 2012 after winning 91 races, and five straight titles with Ferrari from 2000 to 2004. His other two titles were with Benetton in 1994 and 1995.

His family previously won a case against a publisher that printed an AI-generated interview attributed to him.

German tabloid Die Aktuelle had boasted it had "the first interview" with Schumacher since his accident, but had used artificial intelligence to generate quotes.