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The websites of the Arabic news network, Al-Jazeera, were hacked on Tuesday, apparently by a group sympathetic to the Syrian regime. Al-Jazeera's English and Arabic websites were affected by the hack, made by a group calling itself al-Rashedon, or "the guided ones".

"This is a response to your position against the people and government of Syria, especially your support of the armed terrorist groups and spreading false fabricated news," the group said in a statement blanketing aljazeera.net. "Your website has been hacked, and this is our response to you."

In a statement, the network said its external services had been "compromised". It added: The company that operates them quickly resolved this, though some users may continue to experience issues for a while longer.

Commentators said they were not familiar with the group that claimed responsibility. Aaron Zellin of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a thinktank based in Washington DC, said that the hackers were just trying to make a statement and get their voices heard and there were suggestions that the hackers may be a cyber arm of the Shabiha militia loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, but that such a connection was difficult to prove.
Since the start of the Arab spring, al-Jazeera has made a name for itself as one of the leading news organizations covering the region's instability. Unlike some other state-controlled media, al-Jazeera has been known for aggressive coverage of dictators and oppressive regimes. But it has also been accused of inconsistency and bias. A number of staff resigned from al-Jazeera earlier this year, accusing it of being biased against the Syrian regime but in favor of Bahrain, a Gulf state neighbor of Qatar, where the network is based.

Al-Jazeera is funded by the Qatari government; critics say it follows its sponsor's foreign policy objectives, although the broadcaster says it is independent of government control.

Cross-posted from: The Guardian



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