Spain's EU Web site hacked

Hacker uploads image of Mr. Bean

MADRID -- A hacker briefly hijacked Spain's official Web site for its presidency of the European Union, inserting a large smiling picture of comic character Mr. Bean, an official said on Monday.

The supposed resemblance of the bumbling slapstick character played by British actor Rowan Atkinson to Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been a running joke in Spain for years.

A recent edition of leading newspaper El Pais printed a cartoon depicting Zapatero as Mr Bean above an article critical of the government's handling of the economy, in which unemployment has more than doubled to about 19%.

An official at Zapatero's office confirmed a security breach had affected the page specially set up to mark Spain's six-month presidency of the EU but added that no information at the site had been affected.

Newspaper El Mundo published a screenshot of Mr Bean's appearance on the official Web page, adding that the character had greeted visitors to the Spanish government site with a cheerful "Hi there!"