Pro-Chavez hackers steal Twitter passwords from Venezuelan journalists

Journalists critical of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez were among the victims of an online attack by pro-Chávez hackers. Hackers interfered with at least a dozen Twitter and e-mail accounts of oppositionists, reported EFE.

The hacker group called N33 took responsibility for stealing the passwords and said the attack was of their own accord and not ordered by the government, added Univision. "Our only motivation was the illegitimate use of Twitter under the aegis of freedom of expression," the hackers said in a statement reported by ANSA.

Journalists Leonardo Padrón, Berenice Gómez and Ibéyise Pacheco's Twitter accounts were all hacked, reported La Patilla. N33 added a red beret like Chávez is accustomed to wear to Pacheco's profile picture and tweeted, "Seeking men here," reported Últimas Noticias.

In an interview with El Tiempo, one of the hackers said the group would "stay vigilant" for Chávez opponents and promised new attacks. Hackers named Alberto Ravell, ex-director of the opposition television channel Globovisión and current editor of LaPatilla.com, as the main target, describing him as the "jewel in the crown."

The NGO Public Space condemned the attacks and requested that authorities prosecute those responsible, EFE reported.

While Freedom House included Venezuela on the list of countries where the Internet is under threat, the Venezuelan government insists its objective is to improve public access to the web, not limit it.

For more information on stories like this, follow the Knight Center's social media and freedom of expression Twitter feed.

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