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Spain's EU webpage hijacked by Mr Bean

'Resemblance' between two characters has been a running joke

An unidentified hacker briefly hijacked Spain's official website for its presidency of the European Union, inserting a large smiling picture of comic character Mr Bean, an official said yesterday.

The supposed resemblance of the bumbling slapstick character played by British actor Rowan Atkinson to Spain's Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been a running joke in Spain for years.

A recent edition of leading newspaper El Pais printed a cartoon depicting Mr Zapatero as Mr Bean above an article critical of the government's handling of the economy, in which unemployment has more than doubled to about 19 per cent.

An official at Mr Zapatero's office confirmed a security breach had affected the page (http://www.eu2010.es/) specially set up to mark Spain's six-month presidency of the EU but added that no information at the site had been affected.

Newspaper El Mundo published a screenshot ( http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2010/01/04/union_europea/1262610678.html ) of Mr Bean's appearance on the official webpage, adding that the character had greeted visitors to the Spanish government site with a cheerful "Hi there!"

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