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Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Al-Jazeera hacker pleads guilty
Hack attack
Racine hijacked the site for a few hours
An American web designer is to formally plead guilty to hacking the Arabic TV channel al-Jazeera's website during the Iraq war.

John William Racine II, 24, on Thursday admitted diverting al-Jazeera's traffic and e-mails to a site called Let Freedom Ring, featuring pro-US messages, prosecutors said.

The attack is said to have been motivated by al-Jazeera's decision to show pictures of dead and captured American soldiers during the war.

Both al-Jazeera's Arabic and English-language sites were hacked into or shut down frequently during the war.

Launched: 1996
Audience: 35 million
Motto: "Opinion... and the other opinion"
Based in Qatar and funded by the Emir of Qatar

Mr Racine, who contacted the authorities in March, has agreed to plead guilty to two charges of wire fraud and unlawful interception of an electronic communication when he appears in court in Los Angeles on Monday.

He is expected to be sentenced to three years' probation, 1,000 hours of community service and a fine of $1,500.

Al-Jazeera's technology manager welcomed the charges, but said the hacking of the site was a costly operation that could not have involved just one person.

"It is not difficult for one person to have the brain to do this, but the financial capabilities needed for the hacking are hard to find with one person," Salah Siddiki told the Associated Press.

The US has criticised al-Jazeera over its coverage of the war in Iraq and for airing statements from Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

The independent Qatar-based station has also angered Arab leaders for speaking out against them and their policies, but remains popular with Arab audiences.

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