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Serbs Fall For Nobel Internet Hoax

A screenshot of a hoax website that declared Serb nationalist Dobrica Cosic the winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Literature.
It must have been a painful cut for Dobrica Cosic, Serbia's leading nationalist writer. Along with much of the Serbian public -- and some corners of the international media -- Cosic fell victim on October 6 to an elaborate internet hoax that claimed Cosic had been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The fake announcement, organzied by a group of activist hackers, was made on a mock Nobel Prize site. It led to a flurry of news breaks and congratulatory notes before the Nobel Committee announced an hour later at a ceremony in Stockholm and on its official site that the real recipient was Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer.

The hackers then posted another note on the fake site in which they explained the motivation for their hoax.

"The purpose of our activity is to bring to the attention of the Serbian public the dangerous influence of the writer Dobrica Cosic, who has been, again this year, proclaimed by some as a serious contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature."

Cosic, 90, was a hardline member of the Communist Party who turned to nationalism in the 1970s and led, with several fellow members of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Serb nationalist revival in the 1980s, which many in the Balkans and beyond see as a primary cause of the former Yugoslavia's bloody breakup.

The authors of the fake announcement wrote that the "terrible consequences of Mr. Cosic's political, literary and public activity are felt to this day, both by his own country and throughout the region. Dobrica Cosic is not a recipient of the Nobel Prize, although the general public in Serbia, and he himself, believed he was for 15 full minutes," the activists said in the announcement.

"We find some solace in that fact," they added.

-- Nedim Dervisbegovic

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