Observant submitted an anonymous email claiming responsibility for the attack to the police. The police investigation has since been concluded, the university magazine wrote, but the identity of the culprits remains unclear.

In the email, the anonymous perpetrators accuse Observant of publishing ‘false journalism (…) and hateful opinion articles’. They also claim that racism and transphobia are becoming more and more dominant on the magazine’s website. At the end of the message, the activists threaten to take the site offline again if it publishes anything not to their liking.

Possible link with previous threat

Prior to the attack, Observant was also accused of transphobia by a group of student activists called Feminists of Maastricht (FOM). In a news story about free tampons and pads on campus, the magazine had written about ‘women’ who menstruate. According to the activists, it should have used the word ‘people’ instead.

If Observant refused to amend the story, the group would ‘mobilise [their] community’. Is there a direct link between FOM’s threat and the cyberattack? “These suspicions are impossible to substantiate”, Observant writes. The magazine also reached out to FOM, but the group declined to comment.

Maastricht University president Rianne Letschert called the cyberattack ‘shocking’, saying it affected freedom of the press and freedom of speech. “If you disagree with something, or if you have a difference of opinion, you have a respectful debate about it.” She also hoped that ‘organisations affiliated with Maastricht University would never stoop to such actions’.