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U.S. rights activist claims N. Korea hacked into his computer

All News 18:44 April 29, 2016

By Kim Soo-yeon

SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- A prominent U.S. human rights activist claimed Friday that North Korea hacked into his computer last week which contained a document on cooperation between North Korea and Syria.

Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, said that when he woke up at a hotel during his recent visit to Latin America, he found that his computer had been "compromised and remotely accessed."

The Washington-based non-governmental organization has focused on shedding light on North Korea's human rights violations and improving the North's rights records.

"Only one document was opened. That document contains some material that I had received from Syrian human rights defenders regarding Syria-North Korea cooperation," Scarlatoiu told Yonhap News Agency on the sidelines of a forum in Seoul.

"There is only one suspect here," he said, referring to North Korea.

Scarlatoiu said that cyber security experts whom he has contacted said that "most likely the attack came from North Korea," though he has no hard evidence for that. His claim has yet to be independently verified.

If confirmed, it would be the latest case of a North Korean cyber attack on a high-profile target in South Korea and other countries.

His organization was one of several targets of North Korean hacking back in early 2013.

North Korea and Syria have been long suspected of nuclear cooperation although both sides still deny it.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuke watchdog, has said in a report that an installation in Syria destroyed by an Israeli air strike back in 2007 was very likely a nuclear reactor with a similar design to the one in North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Related to North Korea's unlawful hacking activities, in March 2013 North Korea carried out a massive cyber attack on South Korean financial firms and TV broadcasters, causing their networks to crash.

In 2014, the U.S. accused Pyongyang of staging cyber attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment which released "The Interview," a movie about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.


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