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Cyber activists hack municipality's webpage in protest against government's attacks on free expression

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 4 August 2011, the web page of the municipality of Francisco de Orellana, a city in the Amazon region in northeastern Ecuador, suffered a cyber-attack by a group of cyber activists known around the world as "Anonymous".

The content of the city government's web page was replaced with a white screen with a message that read: "We're Anonymous. We're legendary. We don't forgive. We don't forget. Wait for us . . . victory will be ours".

The attack occurred after a warning of retaliatory actions was issued to the government through two videos that had been circulating on the Internet and were recently uploaded on YouTube.

The "Anonymous" communiqué points out that Rafael Correa's government "has taken a radical stance against freedom of expression" by censoring the media, and notes that the recent sentence against the newspaper "El Universo" - whereby a judge sentenced the daily's directors and an editorial writer to three years in prison - is the best example of those actions.

The "Anonymous" videos feature a digital character who wears a mask inspired by the film "V for Vendetta" and speaks with a distorted voice. The videos also invite the public to join what they call "Operation Condor" and "Operation Paper Storm".

One of the videos says: "As a result of the recent injustice committed against the newspaper 'El Universo', we have decided to launch the operation Free Condor to fight against media censorship in our country. President Rafael Correa has recently taken a radical stance against the people and the media's freedom of expression, which Anonymous will not accept".

The video also refers to the government's control over some media outlets that were seized and are still under state control and states that "the manipulation of the media by the Ecuadorian government is a desperate action to control and polarize public opinion, censoring its citizens' personal opinions".

The video ends with a quote from Article 19 of the United Nations' Human Rights Charter which states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression".

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