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Identity of Latvia's online 'Robin Hood' revealed at last

By Mike Collier



RIGA, Latvia — Latvians on Thursday finally learned the identity of a computer hacker referred to in the press as "Latvia's Robin Hood" — and whose arrest has now sparked a wave of protest.

The hacker, using the name "Neo" from the Matrix films, had in February downloaded 7 million tax records from the database of the national tax office and used them, as he said, to highlight hypocrisy in high places.


He has now been identified as Ilmars Poikans, a 31-year-old employee in the artificial intelligence department of the University of Latvia.

Poikans had leaked embarrassing details about top government officials and business leaders to local press.

While social security payments, pensions and health care were all cut as part of an austerity regime, Neo's data suggested that board members of publicly owned companies were happy to pocket big bonuses and that bosses preferred sacking workers to reducing their own wages.

On Tuesday police raided the home of Ilze Nagla, a leading investigative journalist who had featured Neo's claims. Police also raided the University of Latvia and finally caught Neo.

The raids sparked outrage among Latvian media and the national Ombudsman's Office has launched an enquiry into the way the police raids were conducted.

Dzintris Kolats, director of Latvia's public radio network said he had contacted the Vienna-based International Press Institute over fears that freedom of speech in Latvia was being threatened.

Opposition parties on Thursday called for the resignation of Interior Minister Linda Murniece. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis in turn accused the opposition of trying to topple his minority administration.

Supporters of Neo staged a brief "flash mob" demonstration Thursday afternoon outside the government Cabinet office.



(c) 2010, Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany).

Visit dpa on the Internet at http://www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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