House Republicans are calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate a series of politically motivated hacks aimed at pro-life and Christian groups.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday, the 13 Republican signatories described the hacks as “intended to chill the speech of religious and conservative Americans.”
“Direct attacks against religious people deserve no place in our society and undermine the ability of citizens to express their viewpoints without fear of harmful retribution,” the letter states.
The lawmakers specifically cite the July leak of more than 74 gigabytes of data from evangelical organizations. The hackers responsible claimed affiliation with the hacking collective Anonymous and attributed the attack to “Operation Jane,” a hacktivism campaign launched in September 2021 after anti-abortion legislation was passed in Texas.
The letter further notes that hackers operating under the banner of Anonymous took over the website of the Texas Republican Party just days earlier in response to the restrictive abortion law as well.
House Republicans also mentioned the hack of the Christian fundraising website GiveSendGo, which was being used at the time of the hack by anti-lockdown protesters associated with the “Freedom Convoy.”
The letter goes on to reference a self-described “cyberterrorist” who took credit for the GiveSendGo hack, an apparent nod to Canadian hacker Aubrey “Kirtaner” Cottle. In a video on TikTok in February, Cottle claimed responsibility for numerous high-profile hacks targeting the hosting company Epik as well as far-right social media platforms Gab and Parler.
“I hacked Epic hosting, I hacked Parler, I hacked Gab, I hacked Truth Social, I hacked GiveSendGo, I don’t care,” Cottle said. “I’m literally a famous fucking cyberterrorist, and you think that you can scare me?”
Cottle later claimed in late August that he had been raided by Canadian authorities who seized multiple computers, storage devices, phones, as well as a Guy Fawkes mask. No public charges have been brought against Cottle at this time.
“The Department of Justice must investigate these attacks, which are likely unlawful and clearly intended to chill the right of our citizens to peacefully express their opinions on matters of public importance as well as donations to conservative or religious organizations,” the letter continues. “Citizens in this country should be free to exercise their rights without fear of malicious cyberattacks.”
The Republican group is giving the DOJ until no later than Oct. 5 to provide a briefing on what it is doing “to address politically-motivated cyberattacks intended to silence supporters of conservative causes.”