Cyber-Attack on European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights has fallen victim to a cyber-attack after publishing a ruling regarding the fate of an incarcerated Turkish political leader. 

According to Bloomberg, hackers struck at the Court's website on Tuesday, knocking it offline for approximately 16 hours. The website has now been restored, and the order is one again accessible to the public.

The attack came shortly after the Court published a grand chamber ruling on December 22 demanding that Turkey release the former leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, immediately. 

Demirtaş was locked up after helping the HDP win enough seats to end the parliamentary majority of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the 2015 general election.  

He was indicted on offenses related to terrorism and jailed in 2016 after parliamentary immunity for politicians was revoked in Turkey. If convicted of the more than 100 charges that he faces, Demirtaş could receive a sentence of 142 years in prison. 

The Court found that the detention of 47-year-old Demirtaş, which has lasted more than four years, goes against “the very core of the concept of a democratic society.”

A panel of 17 judges said that by locking up the politician, Turkey was sending "a dangerous message to the entire population" that pluralism and free political debate will be stifled.

Hacking collective Anka Neferler Timi (The Turkish Hacker Team) appear to have claimed responsibility for the cyber-attack. The group posted on Twitter that they had brought the website down and asked the Court to apologize for the ruling they issued regarding Demirtaş.

The Twitter account used by Anka Neferler Timi was only created earlier this month and has fewer than 100 followers. 

Today, the Court released the following statement: “Following the delivery of the Selahattin Demirtas v. Turkey (no. 2) judgment on 22 December, the website of the European Court of Human Rights was the subject of a large-scale cyberattack which has made it temporarily inaccessible. The Court strongly deplores this serious incident. The competent services are currently making every effort to remedy the situation as soon as possible.”

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