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Turkish, Greek Hackers Reportedly Declare Cyberwar Amid Gas Drilling Tensions

© Sputnik / Natalia Seliverstova / Go to the photo bankLines with digits on computer and laptop screens
Lines with digits on computer and laptop screens - Sputnik International
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Traditionally cool relations between the NATO allies broke down into open hostility last week after Turkey began drilling for gas in an area Greece says is part of its exclusive economic zone. Ankara resumed drilling after Athens and Cairo sealed an agreement designating large areas of oil and gas-rich parts of the Mediterranean as theirs.

Turkish hackers are suspected to have launched a cyberwarfare campaign, targeting the website of the Greek region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace on Tuesday by uploading a photo of the Oruc Reis, the Turkish ship engaging in exploration for hydrocarbon reserves in waters claimed by Greece, on its front page, Greek media have reported.

A message accompanying the photo reportedly read: “We have an army that loves death and martyrdom as much as you love the world. #BlueHomeland,” with ‘Blue Homeland’ referring to Turkey’s maritime claims to energy-rich areas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The website has since gone down, and remained unavailable as of 1 pm local time Tuesday.

The reported Turkish hack on the regional government’s website follows a similar attack by a group calling themselves the “RootAyyildiz” (Turkish for ‘RootStar&Crescent’) on the website of the Greek Ministry of Labour, with that attack similarly featuring a message related to the Oruc Reis. “Every attack You Make to Oruc Reis Will Have an Answer on the Internet,” the message warned.

Hackers also reportedly broke into the website of the 424th General Military Training Hospital, where a photo of the Oruc Reis appeared once again.

Toyota Greece's website was also reportedly hacked, with its front page briefly replaced with a message in English boasting to "lamer" Greek hackers that "you did not deface a global company in Turkey. We did it in Greece in just one hour." A Turkish hacking group calling themselves 'TurkDef' claimed responsibility for the hack attack.

Last week, AnonymousGreece claimed responsibility for attacks on at least two Turkish government websites, leaving a message on one of them demanding that Turkey “Stop violating our laws and international laws by illegally sending ships, aircrafts, submarines and drones” and “stop using humans as hybrid weapons on our borders.”

“For any new attacks we will attack back to targets as well,” the message warned, with the text accompanies by a skull painted in the colours of the Greek flag and an image of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stylized to look like Adolf Hitler and the text “Erdogan Terrorist and Killer.”

Maritime Tensions

Tensions between Greece and Turkey escalated dramatically this month after the Oruc Reis began its drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, south of Antalya and west of Cyprus in maritime territories claimed by Greece.

Ankara began the drilling just days after Greece and Egypt signed a maritime agreement designating large swathes of potentially oil and gas-rich areas of the eastern Mediterranean as part of their own exclusive economic zones on August 6. Athens and Cairo struck the deal months after Ankara and the Turkish-backed Libyan government in Tripoli signed their own contentious exclusive economic zone agreement cutting through Crete and other Greek islands. Both sides have since dismissed one another’s agreements as “illegitimate” and “illegal.”

On Friday, a group of US lawmakers came together to urge the Trump administration and the European Union to jointly impose sanctions against key sectors of the Turkish economy if it doesn’t stop its drilling activities. On Sunday, Brussels urged Ankara to halt its drilling activities “immediately and to engage fully in good faith in a broad dialogue with the European Union.”

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Saturday that Turkey would “never bow to banditry on our continental shelf,” and “not back down against the language of sanctions and threats.”

The spike in political tensions has also led to an escalation of military tensions between the NATO allies. On Saturday, Greek media reported that Turkish submarines had intensified operations off the Greek coast of the Aegean Sea, with Greece’s military deploying anti-submarine warfare sonars to hunt for the subs.

Last Wednesday, a pair of Greek and Turkish frigates reportedly ‘touched’ one another in an incident which took place near the Oruc Reis, with warships from both naval powers continuing to heavily patrol the area.

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