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NPR says several of its news services — including NPR.org, breaking news site “The Two-Way” and several of its Twitter accounts — were hacked by an organization that’s said to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
As NPR said in a statement released in the early hours of Tuesday:
“Late Monday evening, several stories on the NPR website were defaced with headlines and text that said ‘Syrian Electronic Army Was Here.’ Some of these stories were distributed to and appeared on NPR member station websites. We have made the necessary corrections to those stories on NPR.org and are continuing to work with our member stations. Similar statements were posted on several NPR Twitter accounts. Those Twitter accounts have been addressed. We are closely monitoring the situation.”
The issue became apparent little before midnight Monday, NPR says, when messages from the “Syrian Electronic Army” began appearing on The Two-Way. Minutes later, this statement appeared on the Syrian Electronic Army‘s own Twitter page:
“We will not say why we attacked @NPR … They know the reason and that[‘s] enough #SEA #Syria.”
SEA continued to tweet several more messages early Tuesday morning, including the claim that “5 Twitter accounts for @NPR in addition to their official website was hacked by #SEA… We hope that NPR got our message #Syria.”
The organization then followed up by posting a screen capture showing an email sent to NPR staff after midnight by Mark Stencel, NPR’s managing editor for digital news. The email said: “We are aware that access to our publishing system appears to have been compromised and several stories were hacked. We are taking steps to fix the stories that have been vandalized.”
Another tweet from Syrian hackers read: “you can ask @deborahamos” [for an explanation of the attack].
Deborah Amos is one of NPR’s most accomplished reporters covering the Syrian crisis on the ground in the country. When NPR won a Peabody award in March, Amos and NPR’s Kelly McEvers were highlighted for their “detailed reportage, often from dangerous locations” — including rebel held territories.
NPR has not yet said whether they have successfully kicked out the hackers and prevented them from further accessing their computer systems.
The incident follows a similar attack on the BBC carried out by the SEA in March, when the U.K. broadcaster’s weather, Arabic and Radio Ulster Twitter accounts were said to be compromised.
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