Assange backers in cyber retaliation over arrest

Wikileaks supporters hacked the websites of the Swedish prosecutor and MasterCard in retaliation over arrest of Julian Assange, who published secret US diplomatic cables. The Swedish prosecution authority, whose arrest order for Assange over accusations of sexual offences led a British court to remand the 39-year-old WikiLeaks website founder in custody, said it had reported the online attack to police. MasterCard website also was attacked for blocking donations to the Wikileaks website. A twitter post by AnonOps posted this information.

Assange, who has lived periodically in Sweden, was accused this year of sexual misconduct by two female Swedish WikiLeaks volunteers. The pair’s lawyer said their claims were not a politically motivated plot against Assange. "It has nothing to do with WikiLeaks or the CIA," said lawyer Claes Borgstrom, whose website also came under cyber-attack, according to officials.

"Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the U.S. diplomatic communications network," Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd told Reuters in an interview. "The Americans are responsible for that," said Rudd, who had been described in one leaked U.S. cable as a "control freak".

Assange has prominent supporters including campaigning Australian journalist John Pilger and British filmmaker Ken Loach as defender of free speech. Some supporters appear to want to help him. While most denial of service attacks involve botnets, programs that hijack computers and use them to target individual websites and bring them down, the current cyber-attacks seem to be different. "In this case… they seem to be using their own computers," he said. Asked what that said about how many individuals might be involved: "Probably hundreds at the least could be thousands," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of Finnish software security firm F-Secure.

The latest cables, reported in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi made threats to cut trade with Britain and warned of "enormous repercussions" if the Libyan convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing died in a Scottish jail. He was freed in August 2009.

WikiLeaks also released cables on Wednesday that showed Saudi Arabia proposed an "Arab army" be deployed in Lebanon, with U.S. air and naval cover, to stop Shi’ite Hezbollah militia after it seized control of parts of Beirut in 2008. U.S. officials have declined to say whether those cables downloaded by Bradley Manning are the same ones now being released by WikiLeaks.

Source: Reuters | 09/12/2010


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