Zimbabwe: Government Websites Shut Down Over Wikileaks


A group of cyber-activists have shut down Zimbabwe government websites in retaliation for Grace Mugabe's legal action against the Standard newspaper. The government is the latest target of cyber attacks by supporters of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, which in recent weeks revealed that Grace Mugabe and other top ZANU PF officials were involved in illegal diamond trading. The story has been widely reported on but Grace Mugabe vented her anger on the Standard, suing the newspaper for defamation.

Anonymous, an international group of hackers, has since said on its website that it was targeting Mugabe and his regime "who have outlawed the free press and threaten to sue anyone publishing WikiLeaks." The Zimbabwean government website has been unavailable since last week, while the finance ministry website displayed a message saying it was under maintenance.

Grace Mugabe filed a defamation suit against the Standard for US$15 million late last year for publishing details released by WikiLeaks claiming she had gained "tremendous profits" from the trade in illicit diamonds. The article quotes a US embassy cable that claimed she was one of elite Zimbabweans making "several hundred thousand dollars a month" from the sale of illegal stones mined in the controversial Chiadzwa region.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana has meanwhile formed a commission to investigate the WikiLeaks cables, to bring charges of treason against anyone found to be colluding with "aggressive" foreign governments. Commentators have said that this is a thinly veiled attempt to target Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of elections this year, because of the Western support for him revealed in the leaked US cables.