- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 18, 2010

STOCKHOLM (AP) - WikiLeaks moved its servers from the U.S. to Sweden in 2007 to take advantage of laws protecting whistleblowers and a culture supportive of online mavericks.

Sweden’s support for Internet freedom has made it a base for cyberactivists ranging from a Chechen rebel site to the file-sharing hub The Pirate Bay.

But even here, WikiLeaks may not be home free.

The self-styled whistleblower, which has angered Washington by publishing leaked documents about U.S. military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, could present a strong test of how far Sweden is prepared to go to defend its freedom of expression.

Swedish laws allow prosecutors to intervene against publication of material deemed harmful to national security. It’s unclear whether that could also include the security of a friendly nation. The U.S. argues the secret documents risks the lives of coalition forces and Afghans helping them.

Another question is whether there is political will in Sweden to go after WikiLeaks. The site’s founder, Julian Assange, is confident there isn’t.

“The will of the Swedish people is with us,” Assange told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said the U.S. has not contacted Sweden about WikiLeaks. Any complaint against the site would be a matter for Swedish judicial authorities _ not the government, Bildt said, but added he doesn’t primarily see WikiLeaks as a legal problem.

“Is it responsible to publish information that leads to people being killed? I think that is more of an ethical question than a legal one,” he said.

Swedish ministers typically refrain from getting involved when foreign governments complain about material published by the country’s media.

Last year, Bildt dismissed demands by Israel for the government to condemn a Swedish newspaper article that claimed Israeli soldiers harvested organs from dead Palestinians.

Asked whether Sweden would react differently if it were the U.S. that had issues with material published in Sweden, he said: “It makes absolutely no difference.”

Still, not everyone is confident that Swedish authorities will let WikiLeaks be.

The Pirate Party, a small Swedish political group that holds a seat in the European Parliament, on Tuesday offered Wikileaks to use its servers. Their reasoning was that it would be even more difficult for authorities to seize servers owned by a political group.

Assange has said WikiLeaks routes its material through Sweden and Belgium because of the whistleblower protection offered by laws in those countries. He was in Sweden this week in part to prepare an application for a publishing certificate that would make sure the site is fully protected by the Swedish laws.

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