Dutch-based Persian radio website defaced by hackers

Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:16pm IST

Stocks

   

* Hackers attack "treasonous mercenaries"

* Follows similar hijack of Baidu Inc and Twitter.com

* Dutch government-funded radio "on Iran intelligence list"

By Catherine Hornby

AMSTERDAM, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Hackers calling themselves the Iranian Cyber Army hijacked the website of a Dutch-based Persian language radio station at the weekend, weeks after doing the same to China's Baidu Inc search engine and Twitter.com.

Since early Saturday, visitors to the website of Dutch government-funded Radio Zamaneh, which reports on human rights and unrest in Iran, have seen the message "this web site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army" followed by a warning in Persian:

"Iranian Cyber Army warns all treasonous mercenaries that it will not leave them at peace even in the bosom of their masters."

The radio station is trying to regain control of the site and expects to be back online on Monday, editor-in-chief Farid Haerinejad told Reuters.

The home page of microblogging website Twitter was replaced with a similar headline and an anti-American message in December. [nN18231494] China's top search engine, Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) recently experienced a similar hijack. [nTOE60B05U]

Haerinejad said Radio Zamaneh was still broadcasting via satellite from Amsterdam.

Radio Zamaneh is an independent foundation which describes itself at the "unheard voice of young Iran". It broadcasts news and analysis of topics such as gender issues and religious minorities in Iran, along with music and entertainment.

Since a presidential election last June, Iran has witnessed its deepest internal crisis since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Supporters of opposition candidates who lost to hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have taken to the streets alleging election fraud, leading to violent clashes with security forces.

Haerinejad said Radio Zamaneh was among a list of media outlets that Iranian intelligence authorities were urging people not to cooperate with, and that Tehran says are suspected of being involved in efforts to topple the clerical establishment.

Launched in 2006, the radio is financed by the Dutch government through subsidies set aside for promoting human rights.

"We know that the Iranians are not pleased with it but we have decided to keep financing this radio station because we want to improve human rights and that is the goal of the subsidy," a spokeswoman for the Dutch foreign ministry said.

(Editing by Andrew Roche)

((catherine.hornby@reuters.com; + 31 20 504 5009; Reuters Messaging: catherine.hornby.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: IRAN WEBSITE/

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