Cuba's first major independent general-interest news outlet in five decades was hacked yesterday shortly after being launched by the country's best-known dissident blogger.
A little more than an hour after its launch, the site, www.14ymedio.com was directing readers inside Cuba to a page dedicated to scathing criticism of blogger Yoani Sanchez by well-known pro-government writers. Access outside Cuba appeared to be unimpeded.
Sanchez accused the Cuban government of using its control of the country's internet to divert readers to the critical site.
"Bad strategy by the Cuban government to redirect our site from Cuba," she wrote on Twitter. "There's nothing more attractive than the forbidden."
The government has made no official comment on Sanchez's site, though it considers all dissidents to be mercenaries paid by Washington to stir up trouble.
M.H. Lagarde, a Cuban blogger who has frequently written critically of Sanchez and in favour of government policy, said the site critical of her, www.yoanislandia.com had existed for some time but he didn't know who ran it. He said an article of his on the site was used without his permission. Other writers whose articles appeared on the site did not immediately respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Before it was hacked, www.14ymedio.com offered feature and news reporting, opinion, sports and even hair and beauty tips that Sanchez hoped would challenge the monopoly on information by the government. The site was seen as testing both government tolerance for dissent and Sanchez's ability to parlay her international blogging success into a wider domestic audience.
It went live just after 8am Havana time with offerings including reporting with a critical slant towards the government. One feature looked at petty violence through the lens of a night in one of Havana's main hospitals. Other offerings included an interview with a detained dissident writer and a sports feature on the alleged official neglect of soccer in favour of baseball.
Sanchez has gained global renown and a string of foreign awards for her blog "Generation Y", which offers scathing criticism of Cuba's communist government. She has more than 600,000 followers on Twitter, but she is far less well known at home.