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China flag flies on Australian film site

HACKERS posted a Chinese flag on the Website of an Australian film festival in an escalation of protests against the planned appearance by a separatist the Chinese government blames for the deadly riots in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The cyber attack on the Melbourne International Film Festival - which also received a flurry of critical e-mails - came after four Chinese films pulled out of the event and a Chinese diplomat protested at the screening of a documentary about Rebiya Kadeer, who is said to have incited the violence on July 5 that left nearly 200 people dead.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang criticized the screening and Kadeer's planned appearance earlier this month, saying: "Everyone knows what kind of person that Rebiya is. We are firmly opposed to any foreign country providing her with a stage for her anti-China separatist activities."

Kadeer lives in the United States and will attend the festival in Australia's second largest city on August 8.

Hacking attempts

Festival spokeswoman Louise Heseltine said yesterday that a hacker put a Chinese flag on the Website for 45 minutes on Saturday - the day after the festival opened - as well as English-language messages demanding that festival organizers apologize to all Chinese for including Kadeer in the program.

The Website host discovered hundreds of other attempts to hack into it, Heseltine said.

The Kadeer documentary, "10 Conditions of Love," premiered at the festival last night.

Australian Broadcasting Corp television news said yesterday it had contacted a Chinese citizen in China who claimed responsibility for the hacking.

The hacker sent an e-mail in which he denied any link to the government, saying he was motivated by anger at the screening of the Kadeer documentary, ABC reported.

Festival director Richard Moore said the Website had been slowed and online ticket sales had suffered.

"We have received over the last two weeks virtually a mini tsunami of e-mails that I can only describe as being vile," Moore told the ABC. "It's part of a concerted campaign, and I think people who are behind it will try to ramp it up even more."


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