PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Hackers crashed the Web site of Panama’s National Assembly and briefly posted an American flag there, four months after the legislature elected as its leader a man accused of murdering a U.S. soldier.
Officials at the assembly, declining to be quoted by name, said the site, www.asamblea.gob.pa/, has been down since January 9, when a U.S. flag briefly appeared there. One said the cyber attack almost certainly came from the United States.
Pedro Miguel Gonzalez was elected president of Panama’s legislature in September, despite being wanted in the United States for the 1992 murder of U.S. Army Sgt. Zac Hernandez.
His candidature was strongly opposed by Washington, which warned the move would hurt relations between the two countries.
Prominent U.S. Congressional figures including Sen. Hillary Clinton have vowed not to ratify a pending free trade deal with Panama unless Gonzalez is removed from his post.
The Web site crashed on “Martyrs’ Day” in Panama, when the country commemorates the deaths of around 20 people in 1964 during clashes between anti-U.S. protesters and soldiers stationed in the Panama Canal Zone, then under U.S. control.
The United States toppled military strongman Gen. Manuel Noriega from power in a 1989 invasion but it handed the canal back to Panama at the turn of the century and its influence in the country has waned in recent years.
Reporting by Andrew Beatty; Editing by Kieran Murray