Thai police targeted in Anonymous cyberattack over death sentences for Burmese migrant workers

The two Burmese migrant workers accused of murdering British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were sentenced to death on Christmas Eve

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The Independent Tech

Hacktivist group Anonymous has launched a cyberattack on the Thai police force, in retaliation for what they see as the false convictions of two men for the murders of British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on the island of Koh Tao.

One branch of the leaderless hacking group claimed to have taken down 15 official Thai police websites, replacing the pages with messages criticising the recent death sentences given to Burmese migrant workers Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo for the travellers' murders.

Some of the websites have gone back to normal at the time of writing, but at least one, belonging to a police force in the south of the country, still showed only Anonymous's trademark Guy Fawkes mask and the message: "Failed Law. We want justice! #BoycottThailand"

This message purported to come from the 'Blink Hacker Group', and contained a scrolling message saying: "Greetz Myanmar Black Hats" - 'Black Hats' referring to black hat hackers, who violate computer security systems for malicious reasons or personal gain.

The hackers also released email addresses belonging to several Thai police forces, and asked other Anonymous members to target them.

Anonymous is a completely leaderless movement, so any hacking group can use their name or calling cards without needing any kind of 'official' approval. 

A Thai police force's website was taken down and replaced with this message

The fact that the hack was claimed by 'Myanmar Black Hats' suggests that the Anonymous group could be trying to retaliate againt the convictions of their countrymen.

Anonymous also posted a 35-minute video on Facebook claiming responsibility for the cyberattacks, in which a cloaked figure wearing a Guy Fawkes mask alleged the two men had been made into "scapegoats" by the police, who wanted a speedy end to the case in order to protect Thailand's tourist industry.

Lin and Phyo were arrested shortly after the murders and were sentenced to death on Christmas Eve last year. The two Burmese men, who worked in bars on the island where the backpackers were killed, originally confessed to the crimes but later took back their statements, claiming their confessions had been obtained under torture.

Human rights groups have spoken out against the conviction of the men, with Amnesty International saying it was "deeply concerned" that the men had been sentenced to death on the basis of evidence allegedly gained through torture.

The convictions have also been widely decried in Burma, with hundreds protesting against the decision outside the Thai embassy in Yangon and at border crossings elsewhere in the country.

Thai police, however, have denied any accusations of wrongdoing, and the family of 24-year-old David Miller said they were satisfied that justice had been delivered after the two men had been sentenced.

The defence team now plans to appeal the death sentence, and could potentially take the case to Thailand's supreme court if their first appeal is unsuccessful.