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Conditional discharge for Coca-Cola billboard hacker
An activist who climbed to the top of the Coca-Cola sign at Place De Brouckere and hacked the display to condemn the transatlantic trade deal, TTIP, has avoided a fine and will spend no time in jail.
A Brussels court found the 26-year-old guilty of illegally accessing a computer system. The maximum possible sentence was five years in prison and an €800,000 fine - but prosecutors had only requested he be fined €12,116.
His defence lawyers successfully argued that the incident was already three years ago and the man had no other history of criminal activity. He received a conditional discharge, meaning that no sentence will be imposed unless he reoffends within two years.
Advertising screens at De Brouckere, Arts-Loi and Place Stéphanie were hacked in July 2016 as part of a protest against the TTIP and Ceta free trade agreements.
The defendant was one of a group of people who climbed scaffolding on the building that houses the Coca-Cola sign. They found the computer that controls the screen. It had no password.
The "TTIP: Game Over" campaign was prevalent around Brussels, with the slogan: "No more negotiations. No more free trade deals. It’s time for action."
The man had also faced charges of hacking an advertising display at the Libramont agricultural fair, but this was thrown out.