Brussels Judge Clears MEP From Embarrassing Twitter Hacking Scandal ━ The European Conservative | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

A Brussels court convened Monday morning to hear a case that has generated international hilarity, to settle an embarrassing affair involving an MEP and nude photos. On September 4th, the court named an apparently disgruntled parliamentary assistant as the alleged perpetrator of a hacking crime.

Diarmuid Hayes, a Brussels-based filmmaker who served as a parliamentary assistant until 2019, was accused of illegally accessing Irish MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan’s personal Twitter account in the early hours of September 28th, 2020, to impersonate the politician and search for skinny-dipping pictures of his then colleague and prominent green activist, Saoirse McHugh.

Flanagan became the subject of ridicule in 2020 when he ostensibly tweeted the words “Sapirse mchugh photo skinny dipping” from his Twitter account shortly before 3:00 a.m. in what many assumed to be a late-night attempt to view naked pictures of the high-profile green politician who had featured in a recent skinny dipping themed photoshoot with The Guardian.

The hacking allegations had previously been referred to the European Parliament’s security division.

A 51-year-old married father of three, who sits with the Left parliamentary group, Flanagan entered the European Parliament in 2014 after serving in the Irish Parliament (Dáil) and garnering a name for himself opposing police corruption, prohibitions on turf cutting, and cannabis laws in Ireland. 

Flanagan, who has adamantly defended himself against insinuations that he had been searching for the naked pictures of McHugh, spoke of his relief after Monday’s hearing that his name may finally be cleared and even threatened libel action against those who linked him to the tweet.

Mr. Hayes did not enter a plea during the hearing and declined to answer any subsequent press questions, but could face community service or a prison term for various breaches of Belgian data laws. The trial will reconvene on January 3rd at the Brussels Palace of Justice, where more internal drama around the hacking is expected to be publicly aired.

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