Stolen Brooklyn Bridge Flags Returned to US Officials

PHOTO: New York City police officers stand at the base of a white flag flying atop the west tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, July 22, 2014.
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The flags taken off the Brooklyn Bridge and swapped for white surrender flags have been handed over to U.S. officials, a law enforcement official told ABC News today.

The handover came earlier today in Germany. The flags were given to the U.S. embassy a week after Mischa Leinkauf and Mattias Wermke, artists in Germany, identified themselves as having perpetrated the stunt that became a national news sensation.

"They returned the flags to the embassy. There has been no determination on charges," the law enforcement official said.

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The artists said last week that the Brooklyn Bridge stunt was intended as a celebration of public art and not as any political statement.

The Berlin-based duo said that the flags that they put on top of the bridge were not bleached white but were made of white material and then hand-stitched so that it was done in Old Glory style with white stars and stripes. They said that they followed U.S. Flag Code in their handling of the American flags that they took down.

Prosecutors in New York could still pursue felony burglary charges against the duo, which could lead to the issuing of an international arrest warrant. Authorities also "have some significant leads" as to the people who assisted the Germans in their stunt in the U.S. The American accomplices are still being pursued.

New York Police Department officials are taking the flag return as a sign of "good faith" that the stunt was "some sort of artistic thing or stunt" as opposed to a serious threat or attempt to scare American citizens, the law enforcement official said.

It is believed that the artists realized how serious this was and how much trouble they were in when NY Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced on WABC's Sunday show "Up Close with Diana Williams" that investigators knew who the perpetrators were.

An anti-Israel flag was draped from the railing alongside the main roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge on Wednesday, but investigators were treating it as standard "nonsense" that happens every day in New York.

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