‘Comeleak’ hacker cleared of cybercrime charges
MANILA, Philippines — A Manila court has dismissed the cybercrime case against an information technology graduate who was charged in connection with the hacking of the Commission of Elections (Comelec) website in 2016—the biggest private data leak in Philippine history.
Paul Loui Biteng was cleared of criminal charges after the prosecution failed to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, according to the ruling by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina. The 28-page order was dated Feb. 17 but was obtained by the media on Friday.
“There is no direct evidence categorically linking him (Biteng) as the perpetrator for the crimes charged,” the decision read.
Then 23-year-old Biteng was arrested by members of the National Bureau of Investigation in 2016 after he was tagged in the hacking of the Comelec website—then dubbed as “Comeleaks.” The massive data breach exposed personal information of 55 million Filipino voters over a month before the 2016 national elections.
“Hacktivist” group Anonymous Philippines said it was responsible for the data breach. The group also demanded that the poll body implement security features of its vote-counting machines. Biteng was said to be a member of Anonymous Philippines.
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