Two members of staff of the European Commission have said that their computers were hacked in Azerbaijan while attending a UN-backed conference on the internet.
One of them was Ryan Heath, the spokesman for Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner for the digital agenda. He said that both devices were private, rather than Commission property, and that it is too early to say who tried to gain access to the computers.
Nonetheless, Kroes herself has indicated a connection between the attacks and the conference, the Internet Governance Forum, which receives substantial funding from the Commission. In a blog entry on Sunday (10 November), she wrote: “Activists were harassed at the internet conference. My advisers had their computers hacked. So much for openness.”
Kroes delivered the keynote speech at the event, in which she accused the Azeri government of arbitrary restrictions on the media, effectively criminalising free speech, and spying on activists. The commissioner also tried to visit a number of political prisoners, but, despite assurances from the presidential administration, access was denied.
Kroes's office says that the commissioner intends to follow up with a letter to President Ilham Aliev, incorporating case studies of restrictions experienced by journalists and activists at the conference.