London, July 26 (IANS) The website of Australia's biggest film festival was hacked into after a Chinese diplomat called to complain about the screening of a film about exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, the BBC reported Sunday.
Melbourne International Film Festival head Richard Moore told BBC radio that the website was hacked into just after a Chinese consular official called to demand the withdrawal of a documentary film about Kadeer, who belongs to the predominantly-Muslim Uighur minority.
Content on the website was briefly replaced with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans Saturday, he said, adding Beijing has withdrawn five films from the festival in protest.
The Chinese government accuses Kadeer, the subject of "Ten Conditions of Love" by Australian filmmaker Jeff Daniels, of inciting riots between Uighurs and Han settlers that swept Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, earlier this month.
Kadeer, who lives in the US after spending six years in a Chinese jail, denies the charge.
Moore said the attacks on the festival website began about 10 days ago "We've been subjected to a number of these attacks and we can see behind the scenes on our website that there are hundreds, well, if not thousands, of people from outside of Australia trying to get into our website and trying to damage us," Moore told the BBC.
"This has been going on... since obviously the call from a Chinese consular official who told me in no uncertain terms that I was urged to withdraw this particular documentary from the film festival and that I had to justify my actions in including the film in our programme," he added.
He said police were investigating the website attacks, which appear to come from a Chinese internet address.