Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Latvian 'Robin Hood' hacker leaks bank details to TV

Riga
Latvia has been suffering in the global recession

An alleged hacker has been hailed as a latter-day Robin Hood for leaking data about the finances of banks and state-owned firms to Latvian TV.

Using the alias "Neo" - a reference to The Matrix films - the hacker claims he wants to expose those cashing in on the recession in Latvia.

He is slowly passing details of leading Latvian firms via Twitter to the TV station and has its audiences hooked.

The Latvian government and police are investigating the security breach.

Data leaked so far includes pay details of managers from a Latvian bank that received a bail-out.

It reveals that many did not take the salary cuts they promised.

Other data shows that state-owned companies secretly awarded bonuses while publicly asking the government for help.

'Cult status'

The anonymous hacker claims to be part of a group - called the Fourth Awakening People's Army - that downloaded more than seven million confidential tax documents from the State Revenue Service. He is thought to be based in Britain.

Over a three month period they downloaded the private data of up to 1,000 companies.

Ilze Nagla, a TV presenter on the state-owned Latvian TV, told the BBC the hacker has attained cult status for some.

"A lot of people perceive him as a modern, virtual Robin Hood," she told the BBC.

"On the one hand of course he has stolen confidential data... and he actually has committed a crime. But at the same time there is value for the public in the sense that now a lot of information gets disclosed and the whole system maybe becomes a little more transparent," she said.

Latvia is currently in the middle of its worst economic crisis since it broke free from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Unemployment, at 23%, is the highest in the European Union and over the last two years economic output has dropped by almost a quarter.



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