FACT CHECK: Do These Photos Show The Execution Of An Algerian Computer Hacker?
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows Algerian computer hacker Hamza Bendelladj moments before being executed for stealing from banks and giving that money to Africa and Palestine.
Bendelladj hasn’t been executed. The image actually shows a man being executed for murder in Iran in 2007.
Bendelladj and Russian computer hacker Aleksandr Panin were sentenced in the U.S. to 15 years and 9.5 years in prison, respectively, for their parts in the development and distribution of a computer virus called SpyEye, the FBI said in 2016. The virus infected over 10 million computers and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in financial industry losses, according to the Department of Justice.
An image on Facebook purportedly shows two photos of Bendelladj moments before he was hanged, along with text reading: “This is Hamza Bendelladj. Hacked 217 banks and made 4000 million USD. Donated everything to Africa and Palestine, he was executed with a smile.” (RELATED: Did Kenya Introduce The Death Penalty For Wildlife Poachers?)
The man in the images is not Bendelladj. The photos instead show the 2007 execution of an Iranian man named Majid Kavousifar, who was convicted of murdering a judge in 2005, BBC News reported. Similar photos from the execution can be found on the Getty Images and Reuters photo websites. These images also identify the man in the photo as Kavousifar.
An internet search by Check Your Fact found no credible report of Bendelladj’s supposed execution or any court sentencing him to death. In 2015, then-U.S. Ambassador to Algeria Joan Polaschik denied rumors of Bendelladj receiving a death sentence, tweeting that computer crimes were not punishable by the death penalty, according to the news outlets Algeria-Focus and Al-Jazeera. Bendelladj is alive and in a federal prison in Louisiana, per records from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Online reports alleged Bendelladj took the money he stole and gave millions of dollars to Palestinian charities, Al-Jazeera reported, but court documents make no mention of how the stolen money was spent.