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OpGTMO (Operation Guantanamo) is an Anonymous campaign launched in early May 2013 to convince the United States government to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The operation was established in support of a hunger strike that was started by a group of inmates in March 2013.
On May 4th, 2013, the Twitter account @OpGTMO was created, highlighting a selection of quotes from prisoners in the camp as well as messages from their families. The feed also linked to a Change.org petition seeking to shut down the facility immediately. As of May 21st, the petition has accrued more than 213,000 signatures. On May 6th, Crypt0nymous released a communique video (shown below) describing the dire situations at Guantanamo Bay and why it is necessary to shut it down. The video declared the third weekend of May as days of action for the campaign, encouraging viewers to participate in protests, email bombs and Twitter storms to convince the American government to close the camp. By May 20th, the United States government confirmed 62% of the camp’s 166 prisoners had joined the strike, with 30 of them having to be force-fed through tubes.
May 7th: Initial News Coverage
News stories about the operation began to appear May 7th on a number of politically-minded news blogs including International Business Times, Russia Today, the Daily Kos and Before It’s News. The same day, the Crypt0nymous Tumblr compiled a #OpGTMO master post, providing links to download Twitterstorming programs as well as phone numbers to call in protest and online petitions to sign.
May 17th: Protest Begins
On May 16th, 2013, one day prior to the official launch of the protest, the hashtag #OpGTMO was used on Twitter nearly 8,000 times, according to Topsy Analytics. the On May 17th, the Daily Dot reported on the launch of the campaign, noting they were launching the second hashtag #CloseGitmo for people who wanted to join in the protest without expressly being associated with an Anonymous operation. The same day marked the 100th day of the prisoners’ hunger strike and coincided with a number of real life protests organized by other human rights groups including Code Pink and the Answer Coalition in a number of cities across the globe including New York City (shown below, left) and London (shown below, right). On May 17th, #GITMO17, the hashtag promoted in the Twitterbomb, was the top trending topic on Twitter worldwide.
May 20th: Guantanamo Bay WiFi Shut Off
On May 17th, investigative reporter Jason Leopold tweeted that the wireless internet connection throughout Guantanamo Bay had been shut down in response to #OpGTMO, despite the lack of any DDoS plans. This was confirmed to the Associated Press on May 20th, when Army Lt. Col. Samuel House reported that the wireless had been shut off and access to social networks including Facebook and Twitter had been blocked for a week. The news was also reported by BBC, Russia Today and the Daily Dot.
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The Miami Herald – U.S. acknowledges 14 on hunger strike at Guantánamo prison
International Business Times – Anonymous Launches #OpGtmo Campaign Aimed At Closing Guantanamo Bay
Before It’s News – OpGTMO: Anonymous vows global hack attack to shut down Guantanamo
The Daily Dot – Anonymous launches campaign to close Gitmo for good
Answer Coalition – Why we are demonstrating to Shut Down Guantanamo Now
International Business Times – Anonymous #opGTMO: Guantanamo Bay Protest Campaign Reaches Millions, Trends Worldwide On Twitter