July 23, 2020 / 12:20 PM / 12 days ago

Dutch lawmaker Wilders says Twitter hack could expose dissidents

FILE PHOTO: Dutch politician Geert Wilders appears in court, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 25, 2019. REUTERS/Eva Plevier

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch politician whose “verified” Twitter account was among those taken over by hackers this month told Reuters on Thursday the company believes his private messages had been accessed, potentially exposing dissidents in other countries.

Lawmaker Geert Wilders, whose anti-Islam Freedom Party is the second largest in Dutch parliament, lives under police protection because of death threats. He said in an email that he rarely sent private messages via Twitter but that he had received many over the course of years from supporters in countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

“My Twitter account was not only hacked for some days and the hacker also posted tweets on my account and sent direct messages in my name, but indeed got full access to my DMs, which of course is unacceptable in many ways,” he said.

He said he had deleted some but not all such messages and did not know whether dissidents’ identities had been revealed.

“I do hope they will not be in danger if their identity would be exposed because of this hack,” he said.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It said on Wednesday that the hackers had likely seen private messages of 36 accounts, including one belonging to an “elected official in the Netherlands”

The company previously said the attackers tweeted from 45 “verified” accounts, including those belonging to such well-known names as CEOs Elon Musk and Bill Gates and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Nick Macfie

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