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Newspaper website hacked after posting WikiLeaks documents

(Maharat/IFEX) - The website of the Beirut-based newspaper "Al-Akhbar" ( ) was hacked on the morning of 9 December 2010 and has since been substituted by the website .

"Al-Akhbar" was the only Lebanese newspaper that published the authentic WikiLeaks documents pertaining to Arab countries.

The same website was blocked on 4 December in Tunisia by the Tunisian government after it published WikiLeaks correspondence between the Tunisian authorities and the US foreign affairs department.

In its 9 December issue, "Al-Akhbar" newspaper published a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks stating that two years ago, Saudi Arabia proposed creating an Arab force backed by US and NATO air and sea power to intervene in Lebanon and destroy Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

This coincides with criticism about the leaks and their potential impact on Lebanon. Jeffrey Feltman, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, told "Annahar" newspaper in its 9 December issue that WikiLeaks documents on Lebanon are being manipulated and used for political purposes in order to increase internal conflicts and harm the relationship between Lebanon and the US.

A source inside "Al-Akhbar" told Maharat that the newspaper was cooperating with "Le Monde", "The Guardian" and "Der Spiegel" in order to publish the WikiLeaks documents.

Their only concern now is to bring back the website in the short term, or in the worst case, to put up another mirror site.

Maharat considers the hacking of "Al-Akhbar" newspaper's website to be a threat to the core principles of freedom of speech and the right of people to access information.

Maharat also stresses the need to protect electronic media the same way as other media institutions are protected.

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