Translation: Gigi Papoulias
For three days, Solomon’s website was by far the most popular website in Greece and possibly in the entire Balkan region — receiving more than 220 million hits in just 72 hours.
But, unfortunately, the “visitors” to our site did not drop by to read the news.
On Friday, September 2, 2022, following the publication of Solomon’s collaborative investigation with BIRN (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network) on Yasam Ayavefe, both websites were hit with massive DDoS attacks. Ayavefe is a controversial Turkish businessman convicted of defrauding online gamblers in Turkey, however, he was granted asylum in Greece and received honorary Greek citizenship, signed by President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
DDoS attacks (distributed denial-of-service) aim to disable a website by overwhelming it with a flood of internet traffic, causing it to become unresponsive and “crash”.
In the case of the attack on Solomon, it began in the early hours of Saturday, September 3, and continued with increasing intensity over the following days.
Within the first three days, our website had more than 220 million hits from more than 100 countries. IPs from all over the world were used, the top five were from the US, India, Canada, Germany, and Hong Kong.
Photo: Within 72 hours, Solomon’s website had over 220 million “visits”.
Access problems, despite taking strict protection measures on our part, continued for about a week, especially for our readers from countries outside of Greece.
The website of our colleagues at BIRN also came under cyberattack. At one point on Saturday, they were hit by more than 35 million IPs from around the world.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” commented an IT security expert who works for BIRN, who described the attack as a “fierce battle” to keep the website up and running.
Solomon and BIRN’s IT security experts found that, in both cases, the attacks were aimed at bringing down the page that featured the joint investigation on Yasam Ayavefe, who became an honorary Greek citizen last June.
Photo: IPs from more than 100 countries were used to attack Solomon.
Solomon and BIRN’s investigation examines how honorary citizenship, a rare state honor traditionally given to those who have contributed significantly to the promotion of Greek culture, turned into a peculiar Golden Visa scheme for those who could afford it. Ayavefe’s citizenship appears to be justified solely on the basis of his alleged investments and donations of medical equipment in Greece.
The investigative media outlet Inside Story was the first to reveal Ayavefe’s honorary citizenship, sparking a heated debate about whether it was appropriate to bestow him with such a state honor. Inside Story was also attacked soon after its article was published.
For our part, we must pose the questions that arise in the case of Ayavefe from our investigation:
- How did he receive asylum in Greece, when he holds citizenship from at least three other countries?
- If he was granted asylum because he was indeed in danger in Turkey because he is a Christian, why wasn’t Orthodox Serbia, of which he is also a citizen, a safe enough country for him?
- How did he become an honorary Greek citizen, when the Greek authorities had been notified of the final conviction against him in Turkey?
- If he is indeed a dissident in Turkey, how is it possible that he still maintains extravagant investments in the Occupied Territories of Cyprus?
- Government officials, such as Minister of Development Adonis Georgiadis, signed a letter of recommendation for his citizenship, and present him as being in opposition to the regime in Turkey. Are they aware of the information which reveals that Ayavefe left the Occupied Territories not for political reasons, but because of a dispute with other executives in the gambling industry?
Our journalistic investigation continues.