BANGKOK – Hackers infiltrated the website of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s office on Wednesday, posting offensive comments in the latest attack on her character.
One message appeared alongside a doctored image of Ms Yingluck laughing. It made derogatory remarks about the premier’s intelligence and sexual morality.
At the bottom of the page was another message in smaller letters saying: “I know that I am the worst prime minister ever in Thailand’s history!!!”, along with the name “Unlimited Hack Team!!!”.
The government quickly shut down the website and warned the perpetrators they faced tough punishment if caught.
“It might have been done by some teenagers… or maybe it was for political purposes,” said the prime minister’s secretary-general, Suranand Vejjajiva.
“Hacking a website is easy… but don’t forget that checking who did it is not hard either,” he told reporters.
“If we find them, they will be charged under the computer crime act,” he said, referring to a contentious law that rights groups say is sometimes used to muzzle online dissent.
The incident comes days after Yingluck filed a defamation case against a cartoonist for allegedly comparing her to a prostitute on his Facebook page.
Chai Rachawat, a cartoonist for a prominent daily newspaper, posted pictures of Yingluck accompanied by the words “… a prostitute is not an evil person, the hooker only sells body. But an evil woman sells the nation”.
His post apparently took aim at the premier’s appearance at a democracy forum a day earlier in Mongolia where she gave an unusually fiery speech condemning the 2006 coup that toppled her brother Thaksin as premier.
The prime minister last week had her lawyers file a defamation suit against Thai Rath cartoonist Chai Rachawat, alleging he compared her to a prostitute in a Facebook post.
Chai, whose real name is Somchai Katanyutanan, posted pictures of Yingluck with a caption: “Please understand that prostitutes are not bad women. Prostitutes only sell their body, but a bad woman has been wandering around trying to sell the country.” However, Chai did not mention whom he meant on the post.
Although there is no link between the hackers who defamed Thai Prime minister website and the Thai cartoonist, it seems to be more than a coincidence that the Prime minister website has been hacked just a few days after she filed a defamation lawsuit against him.
The suit charged Chai on three counts — insulting an official during an operation, defaming another person via publicity, and violating the Computer-Related Crime Act, which prohibits posting defamatory comments against others on the Internet.
Information and Communication Technology ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap dismissed the action as challenging the ministry’s move to close down any websites which posted what he termed as unfair online criticism of premier.Suranand Vejjajiva, the prime minister’s secretary, said the ICT ministry has been asked to close the website server, while an investigation is underway to track down the hacker.
“Legal action must be taken against the wrongdoers as the act is a breach of the Computer Crime Act,” he said.
The hacking occurred a day after Prime Minister Yingluck said people have the right and freedom to criticise the government’s policies but untrue accusations are unacceptable and the ICT must take action.