Web site of U.S. rights group hacked

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Web site of U.S. rights group hacked

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A U.S. organization monitoring human rights in North Korea found its Web site paralyzed by hackers on Wednesday coinciding with the massive cyberattack that targeted South Korean TV broadcasters and banks.

The Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea’s Web site was demobilized for several hours as their welcome page showed it was hacked by username “Hitman 007 - Kingdom of Morocco.”

The civilian organization, founded in 2001, said that they discovered many of its publications and key documents had been deleted early Wednesday, but they were able to fully restore their Web site.

Last week, North Korea accused the South and the U.S. of staging a cyberattack that shut down its Web sites over Wednesday and Thursday. Loxley Pacific, an Internet service provider for North Korea based in Thailand, said the culprit has not yet been found yet.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency stated last week that Pyongyang will not “remain a passive onlooker to the enemies’ cyberattacks that have reached a very grave phase.”

Executive director of the committee, Greg Scarlatoiu, told the AFP yesterday that the human rights group does not yet know the origin of the attack but that “all circumstantial evidence” points to North Korea.

He noted that the attack happened at the same time that the entities in South Korea were hit and that reports on human rights abuses in the North were removed by attackers from their servers. North Korea has been pointed out as likely behind the cyberattack in Korea, one of the largest in recent years. Scarlatoiu also said that the cyberattack happened a day before the United Nations Human Rights Council was slated to vote on a resolution sponsored by Japan and EU calling for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry on North Korean Human Rights this year.

The Geneva-based council wraps up its four-week annual session today. The independent commission would carry out an in-depth investigation of the human rights violations committed by the North Korea government and recommend steps to address the issues at national and international levels, and the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea has been an active proponent of such an inquiry.

An independent investigation revealed that North Korea may be holding up to 200,000 political prisoners in forced labor camps with abuses that “may constitute crimes against humanity.”

Marzuki Darusman, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, reported to the 47-member Human Rights Council the results of an eight-year probe into nine patterns of abuses in the isolationist regime, such as mass starvation, torture, kidnapping and a gulag system.

The special investigator said that there was a deterioration of the human rights situation in the isolationist state since its leader Kim Jong-un took the helm in December 2011 following his father’s death. The resolution is expected to pass as the North’s longtime allies China and Russia are not currently member states to the Human Rights Council and would be the first for a commission of inquiry to probe the human rights situation in the North.


By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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