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    Legal proceedings against Brussels ‘hacktivist’ halted

    © Wikimedia Commons
    © Wikimedia Commons

    A Brussels court has temporarily suspended criminal proceedings against an environmental activist, after he hacked into publicity screens in squares across the city to display a message denouncing two controversial free-trade agreements. In its decision, announced Wednesday, Brussels’ Correctional Court said it recognized the defendant as guilty, but agreed to a request from his lawyer to suspend criminal proceedings against him for a two-year period.

    The court justified its decision by the fact that 26-year-old Hugo Périlleux Sanchez had an otherwise clean criminal record, adding that the events in question were dated.

    In 2016, Sanchez hacked into a giant publicity screen in Brussels’ De Brouckère square, swapping a Coca-Cola advertisement with a message denouncing the European Union’s free-trade agreements with the United States and Canada, known as TTIP and CETA, respectively.

    Piratage de l’écran Coca-Cola à De Brouckère (TTIP Game Over) from zin tv on Vimeo.

    Sanchez, who is also a town councillor in the residential Brussels suburb of Watermael-Boitsfort, pulled out similar stunts with publicity screens near the European Commission and in Stéphanie square, a popular shopping area in Brussels.

    The actions —which were captured on video and spread online under the name “TTIP Game Over”—, garnered public support for Sanchez, who risked a fine of over €12,000.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times