Operation Payback: WikiLeaks Supporters' Cyberattacks Target Online 'Enemies'
An online group calling itself Anonymous is attacking sites around the web perceived to be "enemies" of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. This appears to be the group responsible for the shutdown of the Mastercard site earlier today, owing to Mastercard's refusal to process payments to the group. After the site went down, the group posted a statement that read in part:
We will fire at anything or anyone that tries to censor WikiLeaks, including multibillion-dollar companies such as PayPal.
Twitter, you're next for censoring #WikiLeaks discussion. The major shitstorm has begun.
Other targets that have already been targeted, or threatened with attack, range from Sarah Palin to Sen. Joe Lieberman to PayPal, the last of which recently admitted to bowing to U.S. pressure to break ties with the site.
Follow live updates on the unfolding cyberattacks below.
According to a recently released cable, a facility in Yemen holding nuclear material was left unsecured after its one guard was removed and a security camera broke, according to the AP. The cable quoted one official as saying, "Very little now stands between the bad guys and Yemen's nuclear material."
Assange was asked about the decision to release cables that identified sites vulnerable to terrorist attacks when Katie Couric interviewed him on Friday. Assange told her:
We are an organization that attempts to promote human rights by revealing abuses that are concealed. So, of course we never want to be in a position where through our releases we are actually causing harm to indivduals, or at least more harm than the good we are causing.
In case you missed any WikiLeaks cable highlights last week, here's a quick guide to get you up to speed. It covers Tom Cruise on Scientology, Castro on Obama and everything in between.
The Today show interviewed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday after his release from prison on bail Thursday afternoon. During the interview, he described his recent court appearances as "not the beginning of the end, rather it is merely the end of the beginning."
Assange confirmed that he has heard there will be espionage charges filed against him in the U.S., and denied knowing Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army intelligence analyst accused of providing WikiLeaks with information. The U.S. is allegedly putting together a case against Assange on conspiracy charges.
You can watch the entire interview here.
Assange is reportedly preparing himself for a U.S. indictment on espionage charges. Reports Sky News:
Speaking upon arrival at the Suffolk country mansion where he was bailed to by the High Court, he said the American legal action "had yet to be confirmed" but was "very serious".
Sky also quotes Assange as saying, "We have heard today from one of my US lawyers that there may be a US indictment for espionage for me coming from a secret grand jury investigation."
The New York Times reported yesterday that the U.S. is trying to build a conspiracy case against Assange, focusing on proving that he "encouraged or even helped" Bradley Manning with the leak.
The Independent has an interesting article by Vaughan Smith, the man sheltering Assange after his release. Smith describes how he came to the decision to open what is being called his "British country mansion" to the beleaguered WikiLeaks founder. Writes Smith about:
They made him out to be the internet’s Bin Laden. The likeness might be poor, but that was OK because the colours were familiar and bright. Now the focus is on Julian’s court fight, instead of on the opaque political system that his leaks have exposed. The charges that Julian faces have already been dropped once, from a Swedish court that even Glenn Beck, the incendiary US Fox News TV host, rubbishes.
Julian is different to most of us. He is clever and obsessive but also funny and self-deprecating. But he has started something seismic but inevitable, a consequence of modern communications that cannot be stopped.
You can read Smith's entire piece here.
Now that he's free, what will the WikiLeaks founder do next? Cast your vote for Assange's next move here.
Reuters is reporting the text of Assange's speech outside the court. It reads in part:
During my time in solitary confinement in the bottom of a Victorian prison I had time to reflect on the conditions of those people around the world also in solitary confinement, also on remand, in conditions that are more difficult than those faced by me. Those people also need your attention and support.
And with that I hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter and to reveal, as we get it, which we have not yet, the evidence from these allegations. Thank you.
You can listen to Assange speaking on a live audio recording here.
Assange has emerged from court and is speaking. According to Sky News, he declared, "It's great to smell the fresh air of London again."
We're told Assange's paperwork is complete and going to court clerk now
Christine Assange said outside the courthouse that "I had faith that the British justice system would do the right thing... and that faith has been confirmed," according to CNN. The report also states that she "'could not wait' to see him 'and to hold him close.'"
High Court Justice Duncan Ouseley ordered Assange free on bail because he had a compelling reason to return to court. Assange will now be released to an English "country mansion." Reports the AP:
Prosecutors had argued there was a risk the 39-year-old Australian, who faces sex-crimes allegations in Sweden, would abscond if he was freed. But Ouseley said if Assange fled "he would diminish himself in the eyes of many of his supporters" – and make famous backers like filmmaker Michael Moore look foolish.
"I don't accept that Mr. Assange has an incentive not to attend (court)," Ouseley said. "He clearly does have some desire to clear his name."
According to Guardian correspondent Vikram Dodd, Assange may not be released until tomorrow. Dodd reports the hold-up revolves around the surety documents. Many well-known figures pledged to provide bail for the WikiLeaks founder, but they must now physically go to a police station to fill out the official documentation, reports Dodd.
You can hear an audio report on the decision from Guardian correspondent Luke Harding here. In the audio update, Harding says:
"I would expect him to be freed. Whether that takes hours or a little bit longer, I don't know, but it seems that he's going to be out."