Anonymous hacks into Angolan government websites after 17 activists jailed
The Portuguese branch of Anonymous brings down Angolan government websitesGetty Images

Anonymous has hacked into the Angolan government's websites, shutting down over 20 of them in retaliation for the government jailing 17 youth activists. Most of the websites targeted by the group were down for several hours after the hacktivist group claimed responsibility for the cyber attack.

Anonymous' Portuguese branch listed the names of the government websites that it targeted on its Facebook page. "The real criminals are outside, defended by the capitalist system that increasingly spreads in the minds of the weak," said the hacktivist collective. There has so far been no comment from the Angolan government regarding the breach by Anonymous.

Among the jailed activists is well-known rapper Luaty Beirao. The group was charged with plotting a "rebellion" against Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and sentenced to serve between two and eight-and-a-half years in prison on 28 March by the Luanda Provincial Tribune.

Dos Santos has ruled Angola since 1979 and has been widely accused of being tyrannical. His government has also been charged with human rights abuses. In March, he announced his intention to retire in 2018, which triggered sceptical and cynical reactions from people, the Guardian reported.

The regime has faced severe criticism from Amnesty International, which said the conviction of the activists was "an affront to justice". On 29 March, Amnesty posted a letter as part of a press release to protest against the decision. "The activists have been wrongly convicted in a deeply politicised trial. They are the victims of a government determined to intimidate anyone who dares to question its repressive policies," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for Southern Africa. Muchena added that the organisation considers the 17 activists as "prisoners of conscience".

The activists, who were arrested in June 2015 in a book club, maintain that they are peaceful campaigners who are petitioning for Dos Santos to step down.