Multiple news outlets are reporting that USB sticks rigged with explosives have been mailed to journalists throughout Ecuador. Five different newsrooms have recieved them sometimes accompanied by threatening notes. Authorities say the drives are designed to explode when a user plugs them into their computer.
One hack has been injured as a result of the campaign. Broadcast news reporter Lenin Artieda, who works for a TV station in the city of Guayaquil, is said to have plugged the drive into his computer, causing it to explode. He subsequently suffered “mild hand and face injuries” but was not seriously wounded by the blast.
In the handful of other cases, journalists either opted not to plug in the drive, plugged it in incorrectly (which shows you how techy most journalists are), or some other sort of hardware issue appears to have stopped the explosives from igniting.
The USB sticks were rigged with RDX, the chemical agent commonly used in C-4 and other plastic explosives, so whoever sent them really did not like journalists.
The Ecuadorian government has publicly condemned the incidents—releasing a statement that says it “categorically rejects any form of violence perpetrated against journalists and media outlets.” Fundamedios, an Ecuadorian organization dedicated to protecting press freedoms, has also issued a statement condemning the attacks and demanding that the government investigate the source of the bombs.