NPR.org Hacked; 'Syrian Electronic Army' Takes Credit

Apr 16, 2013
Originally published on April 16, 2013 12:30 pm

The Two-Way, NPR.org and some of NPR's Twitter accounts were hacked late Monday by an organization that's said to support Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, as this statement from NPR reports:

"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 problems began around 11 p.m. ET Monday, when the "Syrian Electronic Army" messages started to pop up on The Two-Way and NPR.org. Minutes later, this statement appeared on the SEA's Twitter page:

"We will not say why we attacked @NPR ... They know the reason and that enough #SEA #Syria."

Three more messages appeared on the SEA's Twitter page in the next few hours, 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."

Another message said "you can ask @deborahamos" for an explanation of the attack. NPR's Deborah Amos has done extensive reporting about the conflict in Syria and in the course of her reports has told of the hard toll the fighting there is taking on the Syrian people. She was among the NPR correspondents singled out when the prestigious Peabody Awards were announced in March. Amos and NPR's Kelly McEvers were lauded for their "detailed reportage, often from dangerous locations." Several of their reports took them into rebel-held territory.

The SEA also posted a screen grab showing an email sent to NPR staff just after midnight by Mark Stencel, NPR's managing editor for digital news. He 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."

As this story from the Deseret News explains:

"Last month The Washington Post reported that the SEA appeared to have hacked the Human Rights Watch website and Twitter feed. 'All Your reports are FALSE !! Stop lying!!!,' read one entry posted during the assault. The Associated Press reported in March that in addition to gaining temporary control of several BBC Twitter accounts, the SEA previously has targeted both Al-Jazeera and Reuters."

The Guardian has described the SEA as "Syrian regime supporters."

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