The Special Tribunal for Lebanon described Tuesday the recent hacking of a local newspaper’s website as an attempt to undermine the work of the U.N.-backed court and “intimidate” alleged witnesses.
“There have been a number of concerted efforts to undermine the work of the Tribunal and to threaten alleged witnesses,” Marten Youssef, the STL spokesman, said. “The website is a clear attempt by so-called “journalists” to intimidate alleged witnesses. It is a grave breach of journalistic ethics.”
The website of the Al-Mustaqbal newspaper was hacked by an unidentified group, said a statement from the newspaper’s administration.
The hackers displayed a list of names on the website under the title “secret witnesses” in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon probing into the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The newspaper administration immediately shut down the server and tasked its IT department with fixing the website.
Youssef added that the tribunal welcomed criticism and constantly engaged with its critics. “We can handle criticism about our work. Every international tribunal is faced with similar issues. But what is happening here is not criticism; it is an agenda to intimidate alleged witnesses,” he said.
According to the statement by the television station, the hacking is aimed at alluding that Al-Mustaqbal was involved in a report published at the beginning of the year by a local newspaper with the names of alleged witnesses in Hariri’s probe.
In January, Al-Akhbar newspaper published a report that included photos and detailed information of a number of people it claimed were named as witnesses by the prosecution in the STL.
In 2011 the prosecution indicted four Hezbollah members in absentia for the bombing and has been slowly moving toward a trial.