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Cyberwar Threatens Indonesia

August 18, 1999

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ An international squad of computer hackers will wreak electronic mayhem on Indonesia if the country hampers voting in East Timor’s independence referendum, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate warned Wednesday.

``More than 100 computer wizards, mostly teen-agers in Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Brazil, the U.S. and Canada, ... are targeting the entire computer network of the Indonesian government, army, banking and finance institutions to create chaos,″ Jose Ramos Horta wrote in a newspaper commentary published Wednesday

``A dozen special viruses are being designed to infect the Indonesian electronic-communications system, including aviation,″ said Horta, an East Timorese leader who was co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace prize.

His commentary was published in the Thai newspaper The Nation and Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald.

The U.N.-supervised referendum scheduled for Aug. 30 will give East Timor’s people a choice between full independence from Indonesia or becoming an autonomous region within the country.

Indonesia occupied the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and East Timor has been wracked by guerrilla warfare and human rights abuses since then.

Horta said if the referendum was unfair, the independence movement would also try to hurt Indonesia’s tourist industry by organizing a worldwide campaign to boycott the resort island of Bali.

Horta wrote that he believed a free vote in the referendum would show ``an overwhelming majority of East Timorese″ favoring independence.

``But the conditions on the ground remain far from appropriate for a free and democratic ballot to take place,″ he said.

He predicted the eruption of full-scale violence before or after the ballot and accused the army of ``clinging to the illusion that through terror and fraud″ it can ensure independence will be voted down.

Indonesia itself has been accused of waging cyberwar against the East Timorese.

In January, the Irish Internet service provider Connect-Ireland, which hosted a pro-independence East Timor website, was the target of a coordinated attack from as many as 18 different points. The company had said it suspected the Indonesian government was behind the attack.

In early 1997, Portuguese hackers broke into the Web sites of the Indonesian military and foreign ministry and defaced their websites with pro-independence propaganda.

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