Spanish TVE says unidentified group aired Russia Today show on its website

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish state-owned broadcaster TVE said on Wednesday that unidentified people seized on an open portal on its website to air a Russia Today show featuring self-exiled Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont last Thursday.

A TVE spokesman said those involved did not breach any external cybersecurity barriers, but instead took advantage of an “open door” on the site.

The spokesman said it was too early to draw any conclusions about their identity or location, adding that an investigation was ongoing.

Some 96 unique users viewed the interview last Thursday afternoon, he said. The interview between Puigdemont and former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was produced by the Russian state-run media organization.

Both Puigdemont and Correa fled to Belgium after courts opened legal processes against them in their respective countries.

Spanish authorities have previously found evidence that Russian-based groups used social media to heavily promote Catalonia’s independence drive and influence public opinion in an attempt to destabilize Spain two years ago.

Margarita Simonyan, Russia Today’s editor-in-chief, said the TV channel was not involved in the suspected hacking.

“We don’t know who did it. I give you my word,” she said on her Telegram account on Tuesday.

Russian hackers have been suspected of meddling with political events in the United States, Britain and France over the past few years in a bid to create instability.

Reporting by Inti Landauro, additional reporting by Alexander Marrow, editing by Andrei Khalip and Hugh Lawson