‘Great threat to global security’: Russia urges US to explain CIA hacking exposed by WikiLeaks

‘Great threat to global security’: Russia urges US to explain CIA hacking exposed by WikiLeaks
Moscow has urged US intelligence services to provide a detailed and open response to WikiLeaks’ accusations of CIA hacking activities as #Vault7 constitutes a serious threat to international security, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

READ MORE: #Vault7: US will use ‘full force of law’ if WikiLeaks dump contains factual info, Pence warns

“We’d really like the security services in Washington to respond fully and openly to the released documents with specific facts, and if this information is confirmed then it poses a great threat to the world and international security,” Zakharova said at a briefing in the Russian capital.

Moscow “occasionally” receives information about the activities of the American special services, she pointed out.

Previously, such reports “were always confirmed, but also there always attempts to retouch this information and remove it from the front pages,” Zakharova said.

“In any case, almost every time this information was confirmed,” the ministry’s spokeswoman said.

On Tuesday, WikiLeaks released the first installment of the #Vault7 leak, revealing the scope of the CIA’s hacking capabilities.

According to the whistleblower group, the batch of 8,761 documents accounts for only 1 percent of the total files to be released.

The leaks have revealed the CIA’s covert hacking targets, which included computers, smartphones, routers and even smart TVs infiltrated for the purpose of collecting audio, even when the device is switched off.

The Google Android operating system, used in 85 percent of the world’s smartphones, was also exposed as having severe vulnerabilities, which allowed the CIA to “weaponize” the devices.

The US government hackers were able to access data from social messaging platforms, including WhatsApp, Weibo and Clockman before encryption, the leaks revealed.

During his livestream on Thursday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange promised that the group would provide tech companies that suffered “billions of dollars of damage” due to the CIA hacking “exclusive access” to technical data it has obtained.

READ MORE: ‘CIA is now a paramilitary, cyber-military organization’ – ex-CIA officer Kiriakou


Germany bans over 30 Kurdish symbols, incl. flag of US-backed Syrian militia fighting ISIS – report

Germany bans over 30 Kurdish symbols, incl. flag of US-backed Syrian militia fighting ISIS – report
Berlin has reportedly banned a total of 33 symbols used by Kurdish political and military groups, including the flag of a US ally in Syria, YPG militia, and a portrait of an outlawed Kurdish party leader. The move comes amid Germany’s tensions with Turkey.

In a letter, seen by German Spiegel newspaper on Friday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere allegedly ordered a wide range of symbols associated with Kurdish politics to be banned from public display in Germany. The five-page document with respective instructions and the attached list of prohibited images was forwarded by the minister to regional authorities and federal law enforcement on March 2, according to the outlet.

Among the images is the portrait of Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party (PKK) founder Abdullah Öcalan who is serving a life sentence for forming an armed organization in Turkey. Justifying the necessity of the move, De Maiziere allegedly argued that banners with Öcalan’s portraits against yellow and yellow-green background have “a significant emotional impact” and therefore should be forbidden as they are “especially suited to promote cohesion of PKK which is banned in Germany.”

The yellow banners featuring Öcalan’s image been become a frequent sight at the rallies staged by German PKK supporters who are demanding the release of their incarcerated leader.

It is most beautiful to see Kurdish people & friends march everywhere for freedom for Öcalan. This is Germany:

During an Alawite rally in Germany, PKK/YPG and Öcalan (PKK leader) flags were everywhere. Thus, ending a long term suspicion. PKK

Demonstration today in Stuttgart, Germany, demanding the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan.

Although PKK has been outlawed in Germany since 1993, meaning its insignia has also been banned, this has not prevented those who stay loyal to the party from brandishing the yellow flags at multiple Kurdish rallies across Germany held through the years since its introduction.

Apart from Öcalan’s portrait, the Interior Ministry has reportedly also blacklisted the banner of People’s Protection Units (YPG), a military wing of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is viewed by the Turkish government as an affiliate of PKK and thus a terrorist organization. But the Kurdish-led YPG is also the main force behind the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an ally of the US in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) in Syria.

Close cooperation between the US military and the YPG has repeatedly drawn Ankara’s ire, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling on his NATO ally to withdraw its backing from the group.

“We are your NATO ally. How on Earth can you support terrorist organizations and not us? Are these terrorist organizations your NATO allies?” Erdogan said in December, following the reports of US forces supplying weapons to the YPG.

READ MORE: ‘Support your NATO ally, not terrorists:’ Erdogan slams US amidst row over alleged YPG supplies

Few details have been revealed about other points of the list, which is said to consist of 33 symbols belonging to PKK and its subsidiaries.

The ministry itself, however, denied speculation that the move is aimed at appeasing Ankara, arguing that it regularly monitors if the ban on certain group’s insignia should be specified according to the way this group operates.

The already strained relations between Germany and Turkey have recently been going through a particularly rocky phase after several campaign events planned by Erdogan supporters in German cities have been canceled for “security concerns.” The rallies, which were to be visited by senior Turkish government officials, were supposed to be held in support of the controversial constitutional reform that would give the Turkish president extensive powers if voted for in a referendum in April.

The cancellation of the rallies caused a sharp response from Erdogan, who equated the move to “Nazi practices.” The bold comparison has further alienated the two countries, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that that Erdogan’s remark was “so out of place as to be unworthy of serious comment.”

 

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School’s out! French police use tear gas as ‘state violence’ protests spread to schools

School's out! French police use tear gas as ‘state violence’ protests spread to schools
Five teenagers were arrested as students organized protests at three separate schools in the Paris suburbs that quickly turned into riots, with children throwing projectiles, damaging cars, and launching flashbangs.

Early Friday, about 150 people gathered outside Maximilien-Sorre and Gustave-Eiffel schools in Cachan, in the south of the French capital. Video shows hand-drawn banners hung on the school wall, and teenagers taunting officers before running away.

“Projectiles were thrown at officers, but they did not cause serious damage,” said a statement from the police prefecture of Val-de-Marne.

Le Parisien reported that the police used tear gas, while eyewitnesses on social media claimed that rubber bullets were also fired. One boy appeared to have sustained a head injury, a photo of which was uploaded on social media, where several others photographed themselves posing in balaclavas ahead of the riot.

Un élève blessé par la POLICE lors d’un blocus à Cachan. On fait tourner RT au max !!!

The demonstration was dispersed, but in the febrile atmosphere, 200 students gathered outside a school in Fresnes, a suburb two miles south of Cachan. Tear gas canisters were also launched there, wrote Le Parisien.

Hundreds of riots have taken place across France since last month. The nominal trigger was the arrest and alleged brutalization of Theo Luhaka, a suspected criminal, during an arrest in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. The officers who detained him have since been suspended and face criminal charges.

But this has done little to defuse the tension, with “Justice for Theo” slogans gradually replaced with demonstrations “against state violence.” Previously, most of these flashpoints occurred around transport hubs, and on the streets at night, but the scope appears to be widening.

In a Saint-Denis school on Tuesday, teachers were forced to lock themselves up in classrooms, as students launched Molotov cocktails and set fire to bins. Although 55 people were arrested – 44 of them minors – copycat incidents have arisen throughout France, with daily arrests for public disorder and vandalism in the double figures.

“We have reached a new level of violence,” Philippe Tournier, the general secretary of the head teachers’ union, said, noting that many of the rioters were disadvantaged, being poor and from ethnic minorities. “If things carry on this way it will be end up with someone dying. Ten years ago, we did not see scenes of this nature.”

Both the National Front of Marine Le Pen, and the center-right Les Republicains of Francois Fillon have condemned the violence, and promised to combat it, if their candidates are voted in after next month’s presidential election. But the incumbent Socialist government has accused the opposition of “fanning the flame” of the protests.

 

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