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February 27, 2015 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Lisbon website editor arrested over cyber-attack coverage


05/03/2015 - Update - Journalist released but gagged Journalist Rui Cruz was released conditionally on the evening of 27 February pending trial, after being arrested on the morning of the previous day in an investigation into hacking. He must report to a police station every two weeks and he is prohibited from connecting to the Internet, from buying computer equipment that would enable him to connect to the Internet, and from signing a contract with any Internet Service Provider. Charged with computer sabotage, accessing computer systems illegally and posting content illegally, he is alleged to have supported hacking by posting information about cyber-attacks before other media and, in some cases, before the hackers themselves posted information about their feats on social networks. Cruz’s news website criticized the flaws in the computer systems of state agencies that had been exposed by the hackers. Although his articles may have drawn attention to the hackers, their journalistic aim was to share information in the public interest. Since his arrest, Cruz has lost his second job with Portugal Telecom. His website, which covered other subjects as well as hacking, will inevitably become defunct as he is banned from going online. ---- Reporters Without Borders is disturbed to learn that Portuguese journalist Rui Cruz is being held in connection with his coverage of hacking. The Judicial Police arrested him and six other people yesterday in an investigation into recent cyber-attacks. Cruz is the founder and editor of TugaLeaks, a news and information website based at his home in the Lisbon suburb of Pinhal Novo, where the police arrested him after conducting a search. Exactly what he is alleged to have done is not known. He was due to appear before a judge today. Judicial Police criminal investigation coordinator Carlos Cabreiro said at a press conference that TugaLeaks “divulged information about cyber-criminal practices.” He also said that a representative of the journalists’ union was present when Cruz was arrested, as required by law. TugaLeaks has had several exclusives about the feats of Portuguese hackers affiliated to the international hactivist network Anonymous, who have hacked into a series of Portuguese private companies and state bodies since April 2014. Their targets have included the power utility Electricity of Portugal (EDP), the Bank of Portugal, the Espírito Santo Bank, the public prosecutor’s office and the commission that issues press cards to journalists. After the last two entities were hacked, masses of personal data of prosecutors and journalists were posted online. TugaLeaks’ reports have included links to the hacked pages and data, which were posted on file-sharing sites. Its articles have also covered the shortcomings of public services in the Lisbon region. Reporters Without Borders points out that journalists cannot be arrested just for covering criminal activity. The six other suspects arrested yesterday are accused of carrying out Distributed Denial of Service attacks on websites, defacing sites, gaining illegal access to sites and publishing data illegally. Portugal is ranked 26th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. RSF põe em causa detenção de jornalista após publicação de informações sobre ataques informáticos (photo : foto DR, jn.pt)