Hackers from Russia and China targeted France’s homeschooling platform, say investigators

Hackers operating from Russia and China targeted France's homeschooling platform which crashed at the start of a nationwide partial lockdown last week, investigators said on Monday.

Hackers from Russia and China targeted France's homeschooling platform, say investigators
Photo: Guillaume Souvnant/AFP

The cyber attacks on the “Ma classe à la maison” (My class at home) programme originated in Russia and China but it was unclear whether the perpetrators were themselves Russian and Chinese, the sources added.

The platform, which was used by more than a million pupils and teachers to continue classes after schools were shut to halt the spread of Covid-19, repeatedly crashed on April 6th.

France’s distance learning centre CNED, which runs the service, complained of “deliberate malevolent acts” taking place over several days.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer drew widespread ridicule for suggesting that foreign hackers caused the disruptions, with many parents instead blaming a lack of preparation by the government.

But investigators confirmed that hackers had targeted the system.

President Emmanuel Macron announced one week of home schooling followed by two weeks of rescheduled Easter holidays to help tame a third wave of Covid-19 infections, after hospitals warned they were being swamped with critical cases.

READ ALSO What parents in France need to know about school closures

Easter holidays for the whole country began on Monday, April 12th, a change in date for some regions and will run for two weeks. On April 26th primary school pupils will return to school, while pupils in secondary school and high school (collège and lycée) will have one more week of remote learning before returning to the classroom.

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France arrests, charges Rwanda ex-official over 1994 genocide

France has arrested and charged a former top Rwandan regional official over the country's 1994 genocide, a source close to the case said on Saturday.

France arrests, charges Rwanda ex-official over 1994 genocide

Pierre Kayondo, who was prefect of the Kibuye region and also a former MP, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity, the source, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

The Rwandan suspect has then been remanded in custody, the source added.

Kayondo had been targeted by an investigation in France since 2021 after a complaint was filed against him by a victims’ association. He was believed to have been living in the northern port city of Le Havre.

France has been one of the top destinations for fugitives fleeing justice over the Rwandan massacres in which around 800,000 people, most of them ethnic Tutsis, were slaughtered over 100 days.

A group representing genocide survivors in Rwanda told AFP it welcomed the “long-awaited” arrest of Kayondo. “It marks a crucial step towards justice for the atrocities committed during the genocide,” said Naphtali Ahishakiye, executive secretary of the Ibuka association.

“Kayondo’s involvement in the genocide, including his abuse of governmental positions to incite violence, is well-documented,” he added.

“We implore the authorities to ensure swift and impartial justice in this matter, so that the survivors and their families can find closure and healing.”

Rwanda under President Paul Kagame has on occasion accused Paris of not being willing to extradite genocide suspects or bring them to justice. But France has tried and convicted a former spy chief, two ex-mayors, a former hotel chauffeur and an ex-top official since 2014 while a former military policeman is currently on trial.

Relations between the two countries have also warmed considerably since a historians’ report commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron and released in 2021 recognised France’s “overwhelming” responsibilities in failing to halt the massacres, having backed a genocidal regime.

In their complaint, the Collective of Civil Parties of Rwanda (CPCR) accused Kayondo of taking part in the organisation of massacres and helping to set up armed groups.

CPCR co-founder Alain Gauthier expressed satisfaction that the “complaint was followed by the opening of an investigation and that justice took an interest in Mr Kayondo. It’s good.”