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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 23:57 GMT
Hackers cripple al-Jazeera sites
Al-Jazeera hacked website
The site was briefly hijacked by US hackers
The websites of the Arabic television news channel Al Jazeera have come under electronic attack from hackers.

Some visitors to the site were diverted to a pornography site, while others found a page with an American flag and the message "Let Freedom Ring".

The Arabic and English-language sites of al-Jazeera have suffered internet disruptions since the television station showed pictures of dead and captive American soldiers in Iraq.

The TV channel has described the electronic onslaught as a vicious attack on the freedom of the press.

Flood of data

The al-Jazeera sites are slowly recovering from the hack attacks, but experts say it could take at least until Saturday before service returns to normal.

Members of Iraq's ruling Baath party
Al-Jazeera accused of bias towards Iraq
The TV channel's websites have suffered a string of assaults which have effectively crippled its internet presence.

Al-Jazeera's servers were flooded with junk mail in what was in effect a denial-of-service attack, according to the online editor-in-chief, Abdel Aziz al-Mahmud.

Also at one point a group calling itself the "Freedom Cyber Force Militia" hijacked visitors to al-Jazeera's English website and sent them to a different webpage with the message "God bless our troops".

Its sister website in Arabic was sending surfers to a porn site.

Influential station

"It has been hacked," said Jihad Ali Ballout, a spokesman for al-Jazeera.

He described the attack as "a frontal, vicious attack on freedom of the press" and urged anyone with information about the hackers to contact authorities.

The channel said it hoped to have the Arabic site back up soon, but admitted that its English-language service might now be delayed for several weeks.

Al-Jazeera, a Qatar-based network, is widely considered as the Arab world's most influential news organisation.

The TV channel has angered US and British officials for broadcasting videotape of dead and captured US troops in Iraq

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has gone as far as accusing it of portraying the invasion of Iraq in a negative light and exaggerating Baghdad's military achievements.

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