They have taken on PayPal, the Syrian government and Mexican drug cartels. Now members of the shadowy hacker collective Anonymous have set their sights on right-wing extremists in Germany.
The group has launched a new Internet portal, nazi-leaks.net (German only), to publish hacked data relating to the far-right scene in Germany. The website currently features lists of alleged donors to the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), internal NPD emails, a contacts list from the right-wing weekly newspaper Junge Freiheit and customer data from neo-Nazi online stores, among other information. The authenticity of all the published information could not initially be ascertained.
Some of the information had already been made public, such as the hacked NPD emails, which were published by German newspapers in February 2011. The site, which was first reported in the German media on Monday, was unavailable at times on Monday and Tuesday, apparently because of the high number of visitors.
According to the site's unidentified operator, the portal is part of Operation Blitzkrieg, an online assault on far-right websites by Anonymous hackers which has been going on for several months. "For quite a while now we have been watching our precious Interwebs (sic) being used as a platform for ideologies as stupid and dangerous as it gets. The talk is of course of far-right parties," the organization wrote in an English-language message announcing the launch of Operation Blitzkrieg in the spring of 2011. "We German Anons have decided to tolerate no more these actions."
The NPD told the news agency DPA that it was still examining the case but would probably take legal action against the site. The publishers of Junge Freiheit has already filed charges against the site's anonymous operators, Felix Krautkrämer, one of the newspaper's editors, told DPA. "This is clearly a criminal act," he said. The hacked contact details had already been published in July on the left-wing media site Indymedia, he added.
Anonymous appeared to be posting updates on the nazi-leaks.net site from a Twitter account called Anonymous Anarchists, which they are also using to taunt their quarry. "You want to sue us? A complaint against anonymous (individuals)? Don't make yourselves look ridiculous!" read one message addressed to the NPD.
Shutting Down the Right
Anonymous is a loose-knit coalition of hackers with no clear-cut leadership. The activists mostly join forces on an ad-hoc basis to carry out "operations" of various kinds. The collective became well known in late 2010 when it attacked companies such as MasterCard, Visa and PayPal that had cut off financial services to the whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks in the aftermath of the release of the US diplomatic cables.
Far-right websites are a popular target among hackers in Germany, and have come under repeated attacks in recent years. In May 2011, a group calling itself "No-Name Crew" shut down around 25 NPD websites and downloaded private information. Participants in the annual conferences of the Chaos Computer Club, an influential German hacker organization, also often take the opportunity to hack far-right sites. During the most recent conference, which took place in Berlin on Dec. 27-30, hackers apparently took down a number of right-wing extremist sites. Some of the data on the nazi-leaks.net site is dated Dec. 27, suggesting it may have been obtained at the conference.
Germany's far-right scene has been the focus of intense media attention in recent weeks, following the revelations in early November that a neo-Nazi terror group calling itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU) had apparently murdered at least 10 people in a seven-year killing spree. The case shocked Germany and reignited a debate on whether the NPD, which is alleged to have had links to the group, should be banned.