Liberia: School-going Youngsters Protest against Alleged Hacking of LoneStar Network


MONROVIA – A handful of school-aged young Liberians were seen on Monday morning holding placards in front of the offices of Liberia’s telecommunications giant – Orange.     The students, majority of whom appeared to be at an age when they should have been in school at that time of the day did not seem to know basic details of why they had come out to stage their protest. 

Although they carried placards stating that they were protesting recent news stories of allegations that Cellcom (the predecessor of Orange) had allegedly hacked the MTN network, when quizzed the youthful protestors could not give many answers to show that they had details of the case.     They did not know where the case had been filed, who had been on trial, nor could they give reasons why they were linking actions of Cellcom to Orange.    One passerby noted that from the look of things the protestors had been paid to stage the protest.  “These are difficult times in Liberia.  These people are going around giving our little children small money to leave school and come in the street for nonsense.   This is child abuse.   The government needs to look into these kinds of things,” and observer said. 

Over the last several weeks, unseen hands seem to be pushing a narrative that Orange Liberia was involved in the hacking of Lonestar although Orange issued a statement that it had not purchased Cellcom at the time of the acts were committed and therefore had no knowledge of it.   The company said in a statement last week: “Orange has been made aware of the reports of cyber attacks said to have been carried out against Lonestar by Daniel Kaye from 2015 to 2017 and the alleged involvement of Avishai Marziano and Ran Polani in these attacks. Orange is aware that Mr Kaye has now been sentenced to prison for these attacks in criminal proceedings in the United Kingdom. In the criminal proceedings against Mr Kaye, there was no suggestion that Orange knew what Mr Kaye was doing nor that Orange had any involvement in the reported cyber attacks.”    Orange not only maintained that it was not a part of the act, but stated that it would runs a “zero tolerance approach in relation to these alleged acts.” 

It may be recalled that in recent past the Government of Liberia has taken stringent measures to ensure that young people do not use school hours to engage in non-school related activities this has included crackdowns on video clubs, video games, beaches, or other areas that have attracted young people to activities that took them away from school.    It is not yet known if the government will launch an investigation on those responsible for bringing young Liberians out during school hours for this