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France

Franco-Israeli hacker poses as police officer to harass journalist

media

French hacker Grégory Chelli, who lives in the Israeli city of Ashdod, is under investigation for allegedly harassing a French journalist with the news website Rue89 and his family.

Known by the pseudonym of Ulcan or Violvocal, Chelli, 32, has been accused of making threatening calls to journalist Benoît le Corr and his parents since he published a profile of the hacker on July 29.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is urging the French justice system to pursue legal action against Chelli on the grounds that his actions “have combined violence, perversity and foolishness in an attempt to intimidate Le Corre and silence Rue89.”

However, the investigation launched in France could be difficult as there is no extradition agreement between Tel Aviv and Paris.

Chelli, who self-identifies as a former member of the Jewish Defense League and a militant Zionist, also recorded the calls and posted them online and launched cyber attacks such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) on the Rue89 website in a bid to block traffic.

The problems started shortly after Le Corre posted online his profile of Chelli entitled “Ulcan the Zionist hacker who made the pro-Palestinian websites fall”.

Chelli swiftly called him up and began by demanding use of his right of reply – meaning that he could respond to the criticism in the same outlet where it was published.

The journalist said he was ready to grant Chelli his right to respond despite the barrage of insults and threats he received.

The call lasted 30 minutes and Chelli subsequently posted it on YouTube the same evening.

After hanging up with Le Corre, Chelli then called his parents and posed as a police officer who was calling to inform them that their son had been murdered as a result of one of his articles.

When his parent’s doubted the authenticity of the call Chelli lost his temper and said: “If you don't want this son of a bitch to end up in a box [...] tell him to shut his mouth,” adding that he, Chelli, didn't “give a damn about the police” and was “above the law.”

He also posted this call on YouTube.

Several days later, Chelli called a police station in the north of France posing as Le Corr’s father Benedict and said he killed his wife and son. The hoax call – which was rerouted to appear as the Le Corr’s phone number – resulted in 20 police officers rushing to their family home in the middle of the night.

The Rue89 website has also been targeted, including a DDoS attack on July 29 that brought down the site for several hours.

Reporters Without Borders has supported Le Corr’s and Rue89’s complaints and is urging the French justice system to deal firmly with Chelli's criminal actions against the media.

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