Reporters Without Borders is concerned about several hacker attacks during the past two days on the website of the Albanese-language Kosovar newspaper The Daily Express, which resulted in access being blocked for several hours on 11 August. The hackers identified themselves as “defenders of Islam” but do not seem to belong to any specific group.
“We condemn these attacks, which violate the principle of free expression and could revive intercommunal tension,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Self-censorship and attempts to influence editorial policies are already common on Kosovo. We urge the authorities to take the necessary measures to guarantee media freedom.”
The Daily Express has been covering the case of Hysen Sherifi, a 24-year-old Kosovar of Albanian origin who was arrested two weeks ago in North Carolina on suspicion of running military training camps for would-be terrorists in Jordan, Pakistan, Israel and Kosovo. Six US citizens have also been arrested in the same case. Transcripts of the conversations between the group’s presumed leader, Daniel Patrick Boyd, and photos being used in evidence against them have been posted on The Daily Express website.
The hackers left a message on the website saying: “This is only a message at the moment to this anti-Islamic newspaper, which is not retreating from ridiculing the beautiful religion of Islam. The religion of Islam deserves respect.” They also posted a photo of a flag with the message: “There is no God but God.”
The Daily Express editor Berat Buzhala has said the cyber-attacks would not affect it editorial policies. He told Reporters Without Borders the authorities were taking the case seriously and the police were carrying out an investigation. He added that he had declined an offer of protection as he did not feel physically threatened.
The site is back online and no content or archives appear to have been damaged.