Austria Intel Fight Over Turkish Hacker

VIENNA (AP) -- Austria's intelligence services should be celebrating a success in tracking down a U.S.-based Turkish hacker who attacked several government websites. Instead, they are embroiled in a dispute over who should be handling the probe.

Both sides on Tuesday confirmed a news report citing military intelligence that a Turkish activist directed the attacks from his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The man, identified as Arslan A. and by other aliases, targeted the Vienna airport and the websites of the defense and foreign ministries, the national bank and parliament late last year and early this year.

But Austria's domestic intelligence service is unhappy both about the leak and what one government official says is a case of the military intelligence overstepping its competency.

The case sheds light on professional rivalries between the two agencies that at least in this case might have hurt the investigation revealing it too early.

The Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism complained Tuesday of a "premature publication." In an emailed statement to The Associated Press, it said that could endanger the success of the investigation.

The domestic intelligence agency reports to the Interior Ministry and a ministry official familiar with the case said Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka was furious about the military's role.

The cyberattacks targeted the Vienna airport and the websites of the defense and foreign ministries, the national bank and parliament late last year and early this year.

The official told The Associated Press that none of those attacks constitutes an assault on Austria's national security and that the military had no business getting involved, adding that the domestic intelligence agency was kept in the dark about the military's investigation.

A senior military official asserted that the interior ministry's displeasure appeared to stem from professional jealousy over the military intelligence's success.

Both demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on intelligence issues.

(KA)