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More journalists claim hackers stole personal info from Turkish gov’t websites

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Two more journalists have claimed that a hacker group infiltrated Turkey’s e-government website and other government-related sites and stole the personal information of Turkish citizens, according to local media reports on Saturday.

Journalist Fatih Altaylı on Saturday said in his column for the Habertürk news website that hackers had reached out to him and sent him his ID information, home address and even the deeds of  properties he owns, adding that the hackers also started a WhatsApp group on which they shared the personal information of other journalists.

Altaylı also said that a recent written statement by the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality — operating under the Interior Ministry — that refuted the claims of weakness in Turkey’s online databases didn’t reflect reality.

Altaylı concluded the article by saying he’d better “sue” the Interior Ministry for the data leak claims so that “the truth can come out through the judiciary.”

Journalist Fatih Portakal also alleged last week that his personal information had been sent to him by hackers, saying: “This isn’t a claim, but reality. Our personal information has been stolen.”

The claims that a hacker group had infiltrated Turkey’s online databases and had access to the identity and other personal information of Turkish citizens was first announced by independent journalist ibrahim Haskoloğlu in a series of tweets on April 12.

Haskoloğlu shared purported photos of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan’s ID cards, with most of the information on them concealed, as proof of his claims.

The Interior Ministry had filed a complaint about Haskoloğlu due to his posts, which prompted an investigation by the İstanbul prosecutor’s office, and the journalist was arrested on April 19 on charges of illegally obtaining and disseminating personal information in his social media posts, local media reports said.

Emrah Karatay, the lawyer representing Haskoloğlu, on Wednesday announced in a tweet that the journalist had been released.

Turkey is one of the world’s top jailers of journalists, and mainstream media is controlled by people close to Erdoğan’s government, which denies accusations by human rights groups that it muzzles the media.

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