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Hackers target pro-Terri website

The battle over Terri Schiavo’s life in the Florida courts, Legislature and U.S. Congress moved into cyberspace when hackers shut down a popular newssite noted for its probing coverage of the ongoing euthanasia case.

The Empire Journal, an Internet publication dedicated to exposing government fraud, corruption and abuse of power in New York state, expanded its focus about three months ago to include similar matters that have surfaced in the Terri Schiavo case.

Stories have included evidence of Medicare and Medicaid fraud, the refusal of law enforcement at both state and local levels to investigate allegations of abuse perpetrated upon the brain-disabled woman, and – in a major report titled “Schiavogate: The Big Coverup” – evidence of numerous violations of Florida guardianship law, allegedly committed by Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who has been in charge of the case since late 1999.

The site was shut down for 30 hours.

“It is easy to draw the conclusion that we have hit a major nerve in uncovering vast corruption,” said June Maxam and Ginger Berlin, co-publishers of The Empire Journal, in an online message to their readers.

Maxam and Berlin said the hacking began last week with a threatening message placed on the site, directed at their coverage of the case. Then, on Sunday, the “Schiavogate” piece was removed by hackers almost as quickly as it was posted.

Security measures were tightened and the article was republished, but the attacks continued.

On Tuesday, several new articles were posted, including one about Greer’s refusal to postpone Schiavo’s court-ordered starvation death pending an investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families of some 30 allegations of abuse against the brain-damaged woman.

Another piece revealed some disturbingly friendly connections between Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, and former Pinellas County Sheriff Everett Rice, who now is a member of the Florida House of Representatives. Just before he left office following his election to the state Legislature, Rice hired Schiavo – a registered nurse – to work in the Pinellas County jail.

It also turns out that the mother of Jodi Centonze, Schiavo’s live-in girlfriend with whom he has had two children, worked for years for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department.

Some suggest these connections explain why Rice never investigated the numerous allegations of abuse that Terri’s parents, their attorneys and other supporters have lodged against Schiavo over the years.

“The relationship of Rice and [Michael] Schiavo raises grave questions of alleged impropriety in the Terri Schiavo case and ongoing allegations of conspiracy, collusion and cover-up which have resulted in calls for Gov. Jeb Bush to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the matter and the impaneling of the grand jury,” wrote Berlin and Maxam.

“Rice’s hire of Schiavo came at the same time contentious guardianship proceedings were proceeding in the courtroom of his long-time friend, Sixth Circuit Court Judge George W. Greer, where Schiavo was seeking to end the life of his wife by court order of Greer.”

After that article appeared on The Empire Journal, without warning the entire site disappeared. Archived articles were removed along with the newly posted pieces. Some have been recaptured, others may be irretrievably lost.

Maxam told WND the perpetrators had to crack the firewall of their server, and other websites could be in danger. After transferring the site to a dedicated server, by yesterday afternoon The Empire Journal was back up and running.

The two activists-turned-publishers intend to “remain vigilant in investigating and reporting on Terri Schindler-Schiavo’s tragic situation and the corruption that certainly appears to be present. We are not going away.”

Court documents and other information are posted on the Schindler family website.

Links to all “Terri briefs” regarding the governor’s defense of Terri’s Law are on the Florida Supreme Court website, public information.

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