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Al Jazeera hacker gets community service

'Patriotic' hacking is still a crime, says judge

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A Californian web designer was fined and sentenced to community service this week after he admitted to hacking into the web site of Arabic satellite TV network Al Jazeera during the war in Iraq.

John William Racine II, 24, posed as an Al Jazeera worker to obtain passwords that allowed him to re-route surfers intending to visit Al Jazeera to a site featuring an American flag and the motto "Let Freedom Ring" (captured by defacement archive Zone-h here).

Racine was sentenced to 1000 hours community service and a $2000 fine on Wednesday by US District Judge Howard Matz. In June, Racine pleaded guilty to wire fraud and "unlawful interception of an electronic communication" offences.

"I don't think of you as an evil person... but this was a crime. It wasn't just a childish prank," Judge Matz told Racine.

Many Britons and Americans were upset at aspects of Al Jazeera's reporting of the Iraq war, particularly after it screened footage of captured and dead allied combatants. Some accused the broadcaster of anti-US bias.

However, Al Jazeera said it was committed to presenting both sides of the story impartially. ®

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