02252021

Spanish broadcast hijacked to stream Russian TV interview with Catalan separatist leader: reports


A recent television broadcast in Spain was reportedly hijacked to instead stream an interview that Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont had given to a Russian news agency.

According to reports, Television Española’s (RTVE) online news channel was hijacked and its content was substituted with that of Russia’s state-backed RT network, which had an interview between Puigdemont and the former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa.

“Hackers got into the Spanish +24 channel and switched their transmission for ours,” Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief at RT, told reporters. “We ended up having an interview with Puigdemont, the main Catalan independence leader. Our transmission lasted the whole evening.”

Catalonia’s former regional president Carles Puigdemont speaks with journalists as he leaves the Justice Palace in Brussels, Monday, Dec.16, 2019. (AP Photo/Francois Walschaerts)

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She denied that her station or that the Kremlin was behind the hack, but celebrated it none the less.

“We don’t know who did it but it was beautiful,” Simonyan said.

According to the Asturian paper El Comercio, which first reported the news, sources at the Spanish broadcaster confirmed the hack and that an investigation was underway.

In a statement to the Europa Press news agency, RTVE said that an initial investigation discarded any “external computer sabotage” of its feed.

“RTVE has reviewed the internal processes of said broadcast and the first conclusions rule out that there was an external computer sabotage,” it said, not elaborating on what may have happened.

Sources told the news agency that the so-called hacking was likely caused by a simple signal error.

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Puigdemont has been living in exile in Belgium after he was accused by the Spanish government two years ago of organizing an independence referendum in Catalonia, a northeastern region of Spain that is home to more than 7.5 million people.

The fugitive former leader is wanted by Spain on charges of sedition and embezzlement. He launched an appeal at the European Court of Justice.

A court in Brussels ruled earlier this week that it would await the outcome of his European case before deciding whether to extradite him.

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The 2017 referendum on whether Catalonia should break away received an overwhelming “yes” vote but was marred by a police crackdown. Those in favor of the northern region remaining part of Spain largely didn’t cast ballots after Spain’s central government declared the vote illegal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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