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Elderly Georgian Woman Cuts Armenia Off From Internet


ARMAZI, Georgia ~  (BBC News/AFP) ~ An elderly Georgian woman is facing a prison sentence after reportedly crashing internet service to the neighboring country of Armenia.

The entire country logged on to "cannot connect to the Internet" error messages for twelve hours after connections leading from Georgia to Armenia were damaged. 75-year-old Hayastan Shakarian is accused of hacking a fiber optic cable on March 28th and cutting service to to Armenia's three internet providers; ArmenTel, FiberNet Communication and GNC-Alfa, while she was reportedly searching for copper scrap metal. Georgian Railway Telecom owns and maintains the line and said the damage was serious, causing 90 percent of private and corporate users in Armenia to lose internet access.

Shakaria, a Georgian of Armenian origin, claims she is innocent, "I did not cut this cable. Physically, I could not do it," she said, repeatedly bursting into tears as she spoke. The pensioner lives in Armazi, about 10 miles outside the capitol city of Tbilisi, said she was only collecting firewood and "I have no idea what the Internet is," she added. The woman has been charged with damaging property and could face up to three years in prison. "My mother is innocent. She is crying all the time. She is so scared," said her son, Sergo Shakarian.

Georgian interior ministry spokesman Zura Gvenetadze told AFP news agency that, despite her claims to innocence, Shakarian had already confessed to cutting the fibre-optic cable. And although Georgian Railway Telecom insists that the 380-mile cable has "robust protection", this is not the first time it has been damaged. In 2009 many Georgian internet connections were cut when someone hacked into the cable while searching for scrap metal.

Photo credit: AFP

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