An elderly Georgian woman was scavenging for copper to sell as scrap when she accidentally sliced through an underground cable and cut off Internet services to all of neighbouring Armenia, it emerged on Wednesday.
The woman, 75, had been digging for the metal not far from the capital Tbilisi when her spade damaged the fibre-optic cable on March 28.
As Georgia provides 90% of Armenia's Internet, the woman's unwitting sabotage had catastrophic consequences. Web users in the nation of 3.2 million people were left twiddling their thumbs for up to five hours as the country's main Internet providers — ArmenTel, FiberNet Communication and GNC-Alfa — were prevented from supplying their normal service. Large parts of Georgia and some areas of Azerbaijan were also affected.
Dubbed "the spade-hacker" by local media, the woman – who has not been named – is being investigated on suspicion of damaging property. She faces up to three years in prison if charged and convicted. A spokesman for Georgia's interior ministry said the woman was temporarily released "on account of her old age" but could face more questioning.