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Next Media website hacked
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-22 07:15 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The websites of Next Media’s Apple Daily were unavailable for at least four hours Saturday afternoon because they had been hacked, the company said.

Both the Taiwanese and the Hong Kong editions of the popular newspaper websites were unable to provide services such as news reports or video footage.

Next Media’s Taiwan offices said the hackers’ attack with a virus originated in France. The group posted statements and humorous pictures on its Facebook page apologizing for the problems and telling visitors that engineers were working to solve the issue.

Some commentators linked the online attack with the media group’s outspoken criticism of China. A group of activists was planning to occupy an area in the Hong Kong neighborhood of Mongkok Sunday as a protest against China and against the government of the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region. The timing of the hacking on the eve of the protest might create the suspicion that the two were linked, reports said.

The Taiwan site reportedly returned online for a short time during the afternoon before disappearing again. Services were restored to normal before evening.

In a statement posted on the website, the Apple Daily said it was not guessing at the origin of the hackers, but it strongly reproaching the anonymous nature of the attack, which had gravely damaged the freedom of the press.

Next Media had always defended media freedoms and it would certainly not refrain from doing so now, the statement said, adding that its determination to stand up for basic freedoms would not change.

The Next Media Group was founded by outspoken Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai, who withdrew from his textile brand Giordano reportedly because his criticisms of China’s communist government were threatening the company’s expansion.

When he planned to sell his Taiwanese operations to a group of reputedly pro-Chinese tycoons in 2012, a public outcry turned into a campaign against the monopolization of the media. The deadline for the takeover to take place passed without a deal, leaving the print operations of the group still in Lai’s hands.

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