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Sinn Fein joins Iran, Vatican in web of intrigue

AN online tool, that can reveal the identity of those who edit Wikipedia pages, has allegedly revealed that the Vatican edited information about Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

The tool, which was developed by US researchers, trawls a list of 5.3 million edits and matches them to the net address of the editor.

The edit removed links to newspaper stories written in 2006 alleging that Mr Adams' fingerprints and handprints were found on a car used during a double murder in 1971.

The section, titled 'Fresh murder question raised', is no longer available through the online encyclopaedia. Instead, it has now banned users from editing the page about Adams.

"This page is currently protected from editing until August 17, 2007 or until disputes have been resolved," it states.

Dr Kevin Curran, a computer expert at the University of Ulster, said there are a number of ways people could ensure the changes are traced back to the Vatican.

These include using their computer, maliciously hacking into the Vatican system or spoofing the IP address and having people believe their network was used.

"But nine times out of 10, we can almost say that yes, an employee of that company or organisation has been making the changes," he said. Wikipedia Scanner also points the finger at CIA workers, claiming they used the agency's computers to make edits to the page of Iran's president.

On the profile of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the tool indicates that a worker on the CIA network reportedly added the exclamation "Wahhhhhh!" before a section on the leader's plans for the duration of his presidential term.

The site also indicates that a computer owned by the US Democratic Party was used to make changes to the site of right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

The changes brand Mr Limbaugh as "idiotic", a "racist"' and a "bigot". An entry about his audience now reads: "Most of them are legally retarded."

Most of the edits detected by the scanner correct spelling mistakes or factual inaccuracies in profiles. However, others have been used to remove potentially damaging material or to deface sites.

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia that can be edited by anyone.