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The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva

The United Nations says its offices in Geneva and Vienna were hit by a cyberattack last year that exposed lists of user accounts, but it insisted that no sensitive information had been obtained by the hackers.

The statement on January 29 confirmed a report by the New Humanitarian agency, which earlier in the day reported it had obtained a confidential UN report detailing how hackers broke into dozens of UN servers in the Swiss and Austrian cities beginning in July 2019.

The group described the attack as "one of the largest ever known to have affected the world body," and warned it raised serious data safety concerns.

Officials did not speculate on the source of the hack. But given the high skill level, it is possible a state-backed actor was behind it, one official said.

“It's as if someone were walking in the sand, and swept up their tracks with a broom afterward. There's not even a trace of a cleanup,” the official added.

Geneva houses several UN agencies, including the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization.

Organizations in Vienna include the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Office on Drugs and Crime.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed to reporters that the UN had been the target of the cyberattack, but he stressed that "the damage related to the specific attack has been contained and additional measures implemented."

He downplayed the attack, saying that "the UN responds to multiple attacks at various levels of sophistication on a daily basis."

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
Elvin Isayev

KYIV -- Ukraine's State Migration Service (DMS) says it never ordered the deportation of Azerbaijani opposition blogger Elvin Isayev to Baku.

Azerbaijan's State Migration Service said on December 14 that Isayev was wanted by the Prosecutor-General's Office of Grave Crimes and had been deported two days earlier for "violating Ukrainian migration laws."

The DMS told RFE/RL on January 29 that it had made "no decision to forcibly return or forcibly expel Elvin Isayev."

Upon arrival in Azerbaijan, Isayev was placed in pretrial detention based on a Baku court ruling from August 22.

Azerbaijan has not said on what grounds he was arrested and what charges he is facing.

His deportation came ahead of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's December 16-18 visit to Baku, where he met with President Ilham Aliyev.

On December 23, the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office informed RFE/RL that it had not approved Isayev's deportation.

Isayev in 1998 moved to Russia, where he called Aliyev a "dictator" on his blog, while also writing about corruption in Azerbaijan.

A court in St. Petersburg on August 26 ruled to expel Isayev and strip him of the Russian citizenship that he had acquired in 2001. Isayev was subsequently placed in a temporary jail for foreign citizens.

His deportation to Azerbaijan in September was suspended based on an interim measure of the European Court of Human rights called "rule 39."

That month he moved to Ukraine.

On December 12, Ukrainian media started reporting about Isayev's disappearance from Kyiv, including a dead signal with the mobile phone he was using.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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