Turkish court sentences 72 defendants to life in coup bridge trial

A man covered with blood points at the Bosphorus bridge as Turkish military clashed with people at the entrance to the bridge in Istanbul on July 16, 2016. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Turkish court sentences 72 defendants to life in coup bridge trial

  • 72 defendants jailed for life for their roles in clashes on a suspension bridge in Istanbul in which 34 people
  • The verdicts come as the country prepares to commemorate the anniversary of the failed coup

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court sentenced 72 defendants to life in prison on Thursday for their roles in clashes on a suspension bridge in Istanbul in which 34 people were killed during an attempted coup two years ago, according to state-run Anadolu agency.
More verdicts are expected to be issued for 71 other defendants in the case. Defendants were charged with deliberately killing civilians who heeded a call from President Tayyip Erdogan to challenge the coup plotters on the bridge across the Bosphorus Strait.
The verdicts come as the country prepares to commemorate the anniversary of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt on Sunday, and Erdogan celebrates his recent election as the first head of the country’s all-powerful executive presidency.
Renamed the “July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge,” the bridge was a flashpoint for clashes on the night of the coup. Victims included Erol Olcok, an advertiser who ran political campaigns for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, and his 17-year-old son.
The coup attempt prompted an extensive crackdown against soldiers, civil servants, and academics suspected of links to the Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for the abortive putsch. Turkey has detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants since the failed coup, the UN human rights office said in March.
Turkish media have been flooded with commemorative programming about the coup attempt. Television channels have been airing footage of soldiers who participated in the coup surrendering, stripped of their clothes and weapons, and headscarved women squaring off against tanks in the street.


Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

Alister Shepherd, the director of a subsidiary of FireEye, during a presentation about the APT33 in Dubai Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

  • The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.
  • Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

DUBAI: An Iranian government-aligned group of hackers launched a major campaign targeting Mideast energy firms and others ahead of US sanctions on Iran, a cybersecurity firm said Tuesday, warning further attacks remain possible as America reimposes others on Tehran.

While the firm FireEye says the so-called “spear-phishing” email campaign only involves hackers stealing information from infected computers, it involves a similar type of malware previously used to inject a program that destroyed tens of thousands of terminals in Saudi Arabia.

The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.

“Whenever we see Iranian threat groups active in this region, particularly in line with geopolitical events, we have to be concerned they might either be engaged in or pre-positioning for a disruptive attack,” Alister Shepherd, a director for a FireEye subsidiary, told The Associated Press.

Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

“Iran’s cyber capabilities are purely defensive, and these claims made by private firms are a form of false advertising designed to attract clients,” the mission said in a statement. “They should not be taken at face value.”

FireEye, which often works with governments and large corporations, refers to the group of Iranian hackers as APT33, an acronym for “advanced persistent threat.” APT33 used phishing email attacks with fake job opportunities to gain access to the companies affected, faking domain names to make the messages look legitimate. Analysts described the emails as “spear-phishing” as they appear targeted in nature.

FireEye first discussed the group last year around the same time. This year, the company briefed journalists after offering presentations to potential government clients in Dubai at a luxury hotel and yacht club on the man-made, sea-horse-shaped Daria Island.

While acknowledging their sales pitch, FireEye warned of the danger such Iranian government-aligned hacking groups pose. Iran is believed to be behind the spread of Shamoon in 2012, which hit Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas. The virus deleted hard drives and then displayed a picture of a burning American flag on computer screens. Saudi Aramco ultimately shut down its network and destroyed over 30,000 computers.

A second version of Shamoon raced through Saudi government computers in late 2016, this time making the destroyed computers display a photograph of the body of 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned fleeing his country’s civil war.

But Iran first found itself as a victim of a cyberattack. Iran developed its cyber capabilities in 2011 after the Stuxnet computer virus destroyed thousands of centrifuges involved in Iran’s contested nuclear program. Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation.

APT33’s emails haven’t been destructive. However, from July 2 through July 29, FireEye saw “a by-factors-of-10 increase” in the number of emails the group sent targeting their clients, Shepherd said.