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Hackers Avenge WikiLeaks Leader with 'Operation Payback'

VOA News 08 December 2010

A group of hackers have launched an online assault on businesses that have cut ties with WikiLeaks, in an apparent revenge attack for the arrest of the organization's leader, Julian Assange.

A group calling itself "Anonymous" has claimed responsibility for shutting down the MasterCard website Wednesday as part of "Operation Payback." The credit card company announced Monday it would not process donations to WikiLeaks which is under political pressure for publishing classified U.S. diplomatic cables.

The hackers, or "hacktivists", have also targeted the Swiss bank PostFinance, which had closed Julian Assange's bank account.

The group, which claims it is fighting against censorship, has organized denial of service attacks, which overwhelm a website with data requests.

Blame game

Meantime, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says he blames the United States, not Assange, for the release of secret cables.

Rudd said Wednesday that the people who originally leaked the documents were legally liable for their distribution by the WikiLeaks website. He said the leaks pointed to problems with U.S. security.

Julian Assange surrendered to police in London Tuesday. He was denied bail as he fights against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over alleged sex offenses.


Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny says the investigation has nothing to do with WikiLeaks and that she has no intention of handing Assange over to the United States if he is extradited to Sweden.

U.S. officials said Tuesday some foreign governments have already grown reluctant to trust the United States because of the secrets revealed by WikiLeaks.

One of the latest cables released by WikiLeaks cite a U.S. diplomat saying in 2009 that Libya used "thuggish" threats against Britain if the man convicted in the Lockerbie bombing died in a Scottish prison.

Abdel Baset al-Meghrahi was convicted of the 1988 attack that blew up a Pan Am passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259 people aboard the plane and 11 people on the ground. Most of the passengers were U.S. citizens.

His release last year raised tensions between Washington and London.

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