Hacked Off!

What really matters – the will of the people (Malaysiakini)

As hundreds of thousands rally in Malaysia to express their fury at BN’s stolen election, Sarawak Report has suffered a relatively unimportant level of theft.  Stolen emails.

In the latest ‘Black PR’ effort to try and discredit our work, it appears that hackers have been hired to attack our computers and then to maliciously distort our emails and Skype messages, which are now being selectively published.

Interestingly, the first outfit to publish these illegal, fraudulent and unsubstantiated offerings was the Sarawak Tribune, a newspaper owned by the Taib family. These were soon ‘positioned’ into supportive blogs.

Now, a further blogs have appeared, retailing similar vague but misleading material, which is reminiscent of the defamation campaigns carried out by the PR company FBC Media.

FBC Media were hired by Taib Mahmud to discredit us on a contract worth US$5 million a year, before they were exposed and went into liquidation.

Disillusioned crowd

This latest wave of defamation is also reminiscent of the alterations to our Wikipedia sites made by the PR firm Bell Pottinger, which were also paid for by the Taib family and was likewise exposed in the British media.

Election assaults

During the past few weeks Sarawak Report and its sister radio stations have continued to receive extremely expensive, malign and illegal attention from those who dislike our exposes on timber corruption and land grabs.

Perhaps we should be flattered that those who are paying for this clearly think we are having an effect, but have no direct answers to our allegations?

We have warded off massive cyber-attacks, as well as jamming against our international award winning radio station Radio Free Sarawak on two wavebands.

Click to hear some of the jamming, for example on May 1st.

Crowds on the streets protesting a theft of liberty

Now it appears the same highly paid, illegal operators have been hacking our emails and Skype accounts and are attempting to selectively release chopped-about emails to make it look as if we have bad intentions.

The blogs concerned have even accused us of their own crime of using DDOS attacks. These cost hundreds of thousands of dollars!

Do the supporters of a clique, who have just been exposed for having performed one of the most outrageous, preposterous and ill-concealed election-rigging exercises in history, really think that the hundreds of thousands who are currently rallying to demand back their stolen liberties are going to believe such nonsense as these cooked up emails?

The mysterious ‘Dirk Pitt’

There are a number of subjects on which we have been vilified in these posting so far.  The first relates to the story of the mysterious ‘Dirk Pitt’ aka (also known as) Cullen Johnson.

Mr Pitt first contacted Sarawak Report’s Editor via a text to their hand phone. It is relevant to mention that this handphone number was handed to the Sarawak police back in 2009 after an arrest at an armed road blockade.

Blockades – is it really so wrong to support these people against grabbing billionaires?

This was because the journalist had accompanied a team of international reporters recording an anti-logging blockade by native people.

It is equally relevant that on every occasion on which this handphone has subsequently been entered into Malaysia, it has been disabled after passing through airport immigration (where the Editor of Sarawak Report has always been questioned).

Mr Dirk Pitt/ Cullen Johnson purported to have information on the Taib family’s global wealth.  This is a subject Sarawak Report are aiming to expose and therefore we showed interest and a willingness to be informed.

However, disappointingly Mr Pitt/Cullen Johnson only produced information which he was unable to substantiate, either with documentation or corroborative facts.

Worse, he encouraged us to pay him in order to obtain what he suggested might be illegally accessed information. So, we explained that this is not our method of working. Communications ceased.

We do not know whether Cullen Johnson/ Dirk Pitt is a genuine battler against high-level corruption (entirely possible) or someone hired to lure us into a trap (equally possible).

But it is worth noting that he also claimed to be in touch with the wife of Abu Bekir Mahmud.  Yet, despite our encouragement and his hints, he was never able to put us in touch.

The ‘proof is in the pudding’ – we listened to him, but we never paid him and we never published what he told us.  Look at our site..

Musa Aman? We provided corroboration and evidence, which is why we ran the story and why he has never sued for libel….

Was he hired to compromise us?  If so, it will have been another disappointment.

If not, we will watch out for what happens in his case, since we have been informed by the attacking websites and Sarawak Tribune article that he has been arrested for fraud.

Alvin Chong

The next accusation is that we have received emails from the notorious tax evading lawyer Alvin Chong.

However, it is various firms connected to Taib who have been Chong’s key clients not us!

But we did indeed receive informative emails from an individual who has found it amusing to call themselves ‘Alvin Chong’ in the wake of the filmed expose by Global Witness.

We thought it was quite funny too and since their evidence was useful and could be corroborated by independent records we acted on a lot of the information they sent.

Oil and Gordon Brown

Having trawled through our messages, the worst our hackers appear to have found was a message to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown explaining that Taib Mahmud has started to give out Sarawak’s oil concessions to his cronies, as well as timber, plantation land and coal.

We sent him this link to an article in January and we asked for suggestions about possible experts, who could provide advice for free on how to campaign against this theft, at least in the hope of recommending themselves should Sarawak ever be saved for its people.

Our suggestion was that those who offered expertise ‘pro bono’ could at least hope to be regarded favourably under a TRANSPARENT system at a later stage:

“I think we need some heavy-weight advice on how to manage such a campaign if you have any thoughts? In the event of success i.e. a new government pledged to transparency and the management of the oil through a Trust Fund for the people, this could mean major opportunities for anyone who did step forward to help in the earlier stages”. [actual email, as opposed to the published distorted email]

Sadly, this plea for support was distorted in various websites to imply that we ourselves were planning to obtain major opportunities. Sarawak Report has no financial, legal or oil expertise that could advantage any of its staff in such a matter as oil exploitation under any form of transparency. Sarawak Report also happens to be voluntary, not paid.

This particular email was not in fact replied to.

Cafe Creeps?

Death of democracy? No, because the future is with the young, not the elderly godfathers of timber corruption….

So how did these hackers get into our gmail and Skype?  Most likely is the possibility that hired hands followed personnel into public cafes and sneakily logged in on communal internet providers.

Creepy paid sleuths and shadows.

Otherwise, they have sent so-called ‘Trojans’ to our computers or broken into our broadband accounts. All of this activity is illegal.

They have then published unproven, distorted and chopped about versions of our emails (putting bits of different messages, many months, apart together), which lack any factual corroboration.

By contrast, our reports on Musa Aman and Taib Mahmud have been substantiated by official records and substantiated evidence and corroborative material.

When Sarawak Report makes an investigation we take care to fulfil certain criteria.  Proof and corroboration have been the backbone of our exposes on various key players in timber corruption.

As we have built our portfolio of information, our ability to make criticisms has been extended.

So far, no one has taken up the legal route of challenging us in court.  Does that say something?

Future attack lines?

Such a bad person? Bruno Manser stood up for the people against Taib’s ‘development’

Maybe our defamers will go on to attempt to ‘associate’ us with other ‘conspirators’ who care about the environment and human rights?

If so, we say in advance that we are friendly with BMF (Bruno Manser Fund) and Global Witness and numerous other environmental and human rights campaigners.

In fact BMR and SR are currently co-writing a book about the campaign to save the Borneo Jungle and its people from the greedy depredations of a handful of corrupted timber merchants and their political allies.

We make no apologies…. and we make no money.

Can Taib Mahmud and his hired bloggers make the same claim?

So, let’s get back to what really matters and the struggle by the people of Malaysia to claim their democratic rights after a rigged election which denied the majority vote their government of choice. Bn








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