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Hacker worry for Tibetans

Dharamsala/New Delhi, March 22: Tibetans here are accusing China of hacking the computer systems of the government-in-exile and the NGOs.

A Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) leader said she had received an email claiming to be from the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in the first week of March.

The mail, purportedly from the government-in-exile’s department of information and international relations, asked for details of the association’s anti-China protests.

“Our thagpo (secretary of the department) wants to know the programme details,” association sources quoted the email as saying. But the CTA later said it had sent no such mail.

Tenzin Takhla, secretary to the Dalai Lama, confirmed breaches in the government-in-exile’s computer system over the past few weeks.

The TWA leader had also received a blank attachment through an email. When she requested that it be resent, she was told there were errors and asked if it could be faxed.

“When she asked if she could come over to the CTA office and pick the message up herself, the sender told her he was going out somewhere. That was when she got suspicious,” said Tsering Deckyi of the TWA.

The association office is in McLeodganj while the CTA office is 9km downhill in Dharamsala. The two have now got together and decided to change passwords frequently. But even that hasn’t helped.

“Sometimes mail is received and these turn out to be viruses,” said Takhla. Complaints from the Tibetans’ foreign funding agencies, too, have increased since the hackers struck.

Many Tibetans have also been tipping Indian intelligence agencies about the movements of suspected Chinese spies.

“We suspect that Chinese spies are trying to spark communal tension in Dharamsala between Tibetans and the local population,” said Pashang, who left his family in Asansol to join the frenetic activity in Dharamsala.

The CTA’s department of security, which watches out for Chinese spies, is on its toes, said the secretary for information and international relations, Thubten Samphel.

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