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Tibetan Government-in-Exile Website Hacked

  • VOA News

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks before members of the Japanese parliament, at the upper house members' office building in Tokyo, November 13, 2012.
The Chinese-language version of the website of the Tibetan government-in-exile has returned to normal after being hacked and infected with a computer virus.

The computer security firm Kapersky Lab says evidence indicates the site was attacked by the same group that has been targeting human rights groups based in Asia.

In a blog post, Kapersky Lab security expert Kurt Baumgartner calls the virus a "watering hole" attack that transmits malicious code onto the computers of those who visit the site. He adds that a few of the systems attacked with the code are located in China and the United States.

The editor of the Chinese-language version of the site site, Sangye Kyab, told VOA's Tibetan service that it is now safe to visit the website.

"Our computer center and relevant experts worked together and they’ve just told me that the virus is now removed," said Sangye.

The English and Tibetan language versions of the website were not affected by the attack.

The development has raised the possibility that Beijing may be attempting to monitor the movements of Tibetan activists and others who visit the website.

A spokesman for the Central Tibetan Administration, Tashi Phuntsok, said the source of the latest attack has not been identified. But he added that most previous cyber attacks have originated in China, where authorities view the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama as a violent separatist.

Sangye Kyab says placing blame should wait until an investigation of the matter is completed.

"The Chinese language [version of the] website of the Central Tibetan Administration carries stories about the Tibetan Administration, the situation inside Tibet as well as the international Tibetan movement. It is not a company website. So, the Chinese government is the one that doesn’t like it. But until the investigation is complete, I can’t accuse Chinese government," said Sangye.

The Tibetan spiritual leader has lived in Dharamsala, India, since fleeing his homeland after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. From there, the now 78-year-old Dalai Lama and the government-in-exile have been pushing for greater autonomy in Tibet.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA’s Tibetan Service.