Woman who cut internet to Georgia and Armenia 'had never heard of web'
A 75-year-old woman arrested for single-handedly cutting off the internet in Georgia and Armenia has tearfully insisted she is innocent and had never heard of the internet.
11 Apr 2011
In a case that has attracted worldwide interest, pensioner Hayastan Shakarian is accused of forcing thousands of people in both countries offline for hours after hacking into a fibre-optic cable while digging for scrap metal.
But Shakarian, a Georgian of Armenian origin, told AFP that she was just a "poor old woman" who was not capable of committing such a crime.
"I did not cut this cable. Physically, I could not do it," she said, repeatedly bursting into tears as she spoke.
Ms Shakarian, who lives in the poverty-stricken Georgian village of Armazi, around 10 miles from the capital Tbilisi, said that she had only been collecting firewood.
"I have no idea what the internet is," she added.
The pensioner has been charged with damaging property and could face up to three years in prison if convicted.
"My mother is innocent. She is crying all the time. She is so scared," said her son, Sergo Shakarian.
The Georgian interior ministry said that despite her claims to innocence, Ms Shakarian had already confessed to cutting the fibre-optic cable.
The company that owns the fibre-optic cable, Georgian Railway Telecom, said that the damage was serious, causing 90 per cent of private and corporate internet users in neighbouring Armenia to lose access for nearly 12 hours while also hitting Georgian internet service providers.
But although Georgian Railway Telecom insists that the 380-mile cable has "robust protection", this was not the first time that it has been damaged.
Many Georgians' internet connections were also briefly cut off in 2009 by another scavenger who hacked into the cable while hunting for scrap metal to sell.
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