The FBI is investigating allegations that Internet hackers deliberately sabotaged Gov. Rick Perry's campaign Web site during a re-election announcement last week, several Republicans with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press.
At least two FBI agents specializing in high-tech crimes met with Perry campaign officials on Friday to discuss the incident, which disrupted the governor's live streaming video via the Internet from a closed San Antonio event, the Republicans with knowledge of the investigation said.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.
A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Antonio did not immediately return calls for comment Sunday.
Mark Miner, a spokesman for the Perry campaign, issued a brief statement to the AP when asked if the FBI was investigating the alleged cyber attack.
"The matter has been turned over to the appropriate federal authorities for investigation," he said. Miner declined to elaborate on any contact between the GOP governor's campaign and federal law enforcement. But he repeated his assertion that what happened last Tuesday was not an accident.
"It's too early to point fingers, but we know it was done intentionally," Miner said.
Federal law governing "fraud and related activity in connection with computers" makes it a crime to intentionally hack into secure computer networks and cause damage.
Perry had advertised the Internet-based speech, touted as a modern and hip way to reach campaign supporters, several days before it was launched. Perry seemed relaxed and unaware of the technical problems as he spoke in front of a video camera -- and a live audience of about 200 people -- at the San Antonio headquarters of Holt Caterpillar.
About 22,000 people were able to gain access to Perry's campaign site and view his remarks before the attack, officials said. But when many users tried to access the speech online, they got a message saying "unable to connect to database server."
Within about an hour, the campaign said it had been the victim of a cyber attack.
The Perry campaign is expected to hand over computer logs and files to the FBI on Monday, data that could allow agents to electronically trace the alleged hackers, the Republicans with knowledge of the investigation said.
Perry's campaign Web site managers have said the site was targeted by a so-called SYN flood, whereby hackers simulated a flood of users trying to access the speech at the same time and shutting it down.
The Republicans with knowledge of the investigation said computer log files, showing the Internet provider addresses of the alleged attackers, might help federal authorities track down any perpetrators -- depending on how well they might have covered their tracks.
Perry's Internet broadcast, designed to highlight pro-growth policies, may be the closest he'll come to a formal campaign kickoff. Officials said there are no plans for a traditional multi-city campaign announcement. Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, faces a tough primary challenge from Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.