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German court to examine Lufthansa attack

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After more than three years of investigation, a court in Frankfurt has set a June date to decide whether a short but effective online attack against Lufthansa's website was illegal. The main suspect, Andreas-Thomas Vogel, says it was only an 'activist demonstration'.

On June 20 2001 Vogel released software to automatically knock out the web site of Lufthansa, Germany’s main carrier, in protest at the company's practice of letting police use their planes for forced deportations of asylum seekers. Two people have died on such flights as the result of incorrect restraining methods. The Deportation Alliance claimed that Lufthansa was making a profit from the suffering of people. But Lufthansa argued that the company was required by law to allow the use of its flights for deportations.

The demonstrators claim they never intended to totally disrupt Lufthansa. Technically speaking the demonstration was not a full DDOS attack, where a flood of incoming messages to the web server essentially forces it to shut down. However, Lufthansa's lawyers filed a law-suit claiming that 1.2 million hits caused unspecified economic damage.

Vogel, German news site Heise Online reports, has already stated that he will "be representing all activists of the online protest in court." For the first time, Vogel warned, the German state is trying to make mass protests on the internet illegal. ®

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