NEWSDESK

SOME visitors to Spain's EU presidency website this week were directed to a blog that showed Mr Bean instead of the country's Prime Minister, whose resemblance to the hapless comic character is a long-standing joke.

The government emphasized in a statement that the site itself, www.eu2010.es, had not been attacked, but that an unidentified hacker had taken a screenshot of the home page to make a photo montage.

The mock-up replaced Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero with a smiling Mr Bean, the television and movie character played by Rowan Atkinson, saying “Hi there”.

The government, which took over the six-month rotating presidency of the EU on January 1, admitted that the site had become saturated as thousands of Internet users sought to confirm press reports of the spoof. “The alleged attack exploited a vulnerability called XSS (cross site scripting) to users of the website...,” the government statement said. “For such attacks to be effective, they must be combined with any additional technique that tricks the user to the website to click on a link that has been maliciously modified...”

Opponents of Zapatero often poke fun at the Prime Minister by comparing him to Mr Bean and although the website was quickly corrected, the joke and the image instantly became one of the top subjects on the internet and twitter in Spain and across the European Union.

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