The group of hackers known as Anonymous issued a press release last night announcing their intent to hack and take down the official website for Formula One at formulaone.com for the duration of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Their reason? To protest the increasingly violent crackdown on the people of Bahrain by their own government.

As of this writing, formulaone.com is down as promised and another website, F1-racers.net, is displaying a message from Anonymous that claims responsibility.

In its press release, Anonymous addresses Bernie Ecclestone, president and CEO of Formula One, directly, promising the following:

Anonymous will turn your web site (www.formula1.com) into a smoking crater in cyber space. We will also jam your phone lines, bomb your E-Mail inboxes – and wreck anything else of yours we can find on the internet.

The group also calls upon fans of F1 to ignore the race by either not attending in person or watching it on television. They also appeal to the drivers themselves to protest the race by not crossing the starting line at the beginning of the race.

Last year's Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled due to civil unrest, and despite the increasing frequency of protests and severity of their crackdown leading up to this weekend's race, it has not yet been cancelled. As a result, activists, now including the Anonymous group, are using the motorsport's worldwide popularity to gain attention for their cause.

Scroll down to read the press release from Anonymous in full.
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Anonymous Press Release – Operation Bahrain

Thursday – April 19, 2012 7:00 PM ET USA

Anonymous has watched with growing alarm the incredible human rights abuses of the Bahrain regime. We have watched this tyrannical government tear gas it's own people literally to death, with over 30 fatalities so far. We have watched as thousands of innocent protesters and activists have been jailed. We have suffered with our dear friend @AngryArabiya on Twitter as she watches her father slowly die of a hunger strike in prison to protest the atrocities committed by the regime of this "king" of Bahrain. We have witnessed doctors and nurses imprisoned for simply treating the wounded protesters that your security forces have brutalized. And finally we have suffered in outrage the ignorance and out right lies of mainstream media regarding what is REALLY happening in Bahrain.

1) This is NOT a Shia uprising against a Sunni government. It is a popular and peaceful revolt against the medieval concept of absolute monarchy. It is a movement that spans all strata and sectors of society, and all religions in Bahrain. It is a movement that demands only freedom, justice – and democracy.

2) This government is not quelling violent protests, it is brutally and violently crushing peaceful dissent.

3) This government is NOT legitimate. It is a tyrannical, barbaric – and human rights violating dictatorship. And ANYONE doing business with this regime have the blood of Bahrain's Freedom Martyrs on their hands.

For over a year now, we have as a global movement concentrated our efforts in Libya and Syria, leaving Anonymous Bahrain to to defend their fellow citizens in cyber space. This will no longer be the case. As of tomorrow, Friday – April 20, 2012 the entire global Anonymous will begin to take up the cause of the Bahrain Revolution. The King of Bahrain be warned, we are about to unleash the worst shitstorm you have ever seen – and your time as dictator is over. We will help your people remove you from power, and we will see you tried in the Hague for your many crimes against humanity.

The occasion of Anonymous re-launching Operation Bahrain will be this despicable Grand Prix Formula One race to be held in Bahrain tomorrow through the 22nd of April. Mr. Eccelstone, you are either one evil mother fucker to hold your race in support of this regime (The Kings family are actually investors and make direct profit) – or else you have been lied to and are ignorant of the atrocities committed by these tyrants. In either case, beginning tomorrow – and lasting for the duration of your race we are going to fucking educate you on the truth in a way you can not ignore.

Beginning tomorrow, and lasting for the duration of this race – Anonymous will turn your web site (www.formula1.com) into a smoking crater in cyber space. We will also jam your phone lines, bomb your E-Mail inboxes – and wreck anything else of yours we can find on the internet. You can god damn well expect us. And to anyone in the world who watches this race, either in person or on television – you also have the blood of the Bahrain Freedom Martyrs on your hands. Turn your face away from this abominable entertainment, and join us online to defend the brave protesters fighting for their freedom in Bahrain.

Finally, we join with Anonymous Bahrain in asking that all the drivers in this race protest this evil regime by refusing to cross the start line at the beginning of the race. Internet Freedom Fighters around the globe, join us this weekend and fight for freedom and justice in Bahrain: irc.voxanon.net #OpBahrain

We Are Anonymous – We Are Everywhere – We Are Legion – We Never Forget – We Never Forgive – EXPECT US SIGNED - Anonymous