- Associated Press - Friday, December 3, 2010

LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks struggled to stay online Friday as corporations and governments moved to cut its access to the Internet, a potentially crippling blow for an organization dedicated to releasing secret information via the web.

Legal pressure increased on the site’s founder, Julian Assange, after Swedish authorities cleared an obstacle to his arrest by adding information to a European arrest warrant in response to procedural questions from British officials, who had put his possible arrest on hold for more than a day.

Assange’s lawyer said that he is in the U.K. but she hadn’t received a warrant by Friday afternoon.

Assange said that his arrest would do nothing to halt the flow of American diplomatic cables being released by his group and newspapers in several countries. Hundreds have been published in redacted form this week and Assange said that all of the cables had already been distributed in a heavily encrypted form to tens of thousands of people.

If something happened to him, he suggested, then the password needed to unencrypt the data would be released and all the secrets would go out at once.

“History will win,” Assange said in a web chat with readers of The Guardian newspaper, one of the media organizations helping to coordinate the documents’ publication. “The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you.”

Manchester, New Hampshire-based company EveryDNS, which had been directing traffic to the website wikileaks.org — stopped late Thursday after cyber attacks threatened the rest of its network. WikiLeaks responded by moving to a Swiss domain name, wikileaks.ch — and calling on activists for support. Two companies host the Swiss domain name, one of which is in France. The other is in Sweden.

Officials in France moved to ban WikiLeaks from servers there, with Industry Minister Eric Besson calling it unacceptable to host a site that “violates the secret of diplomatic relations and puts people protected by diplomatic secret in danger.”

The general manager of the French web hosting company, Octave Klaba, confirmed that it had been hosting WikiLeaks since early Thursday, after a client asked for a “dedicated server with … protection against attacks.”

He said the company has asked a judge to decide on legality of hosting the site on French soil.

“It is not up to the political realm or to OVH to request or decide the closure of a site, but rather up to the courts,” Klaba said.

Wikileaks has been brought down numerous times this week by what appear to be denial-of-service attacks. In a typical such attack, remote computers commandeered by rogue programs bombard a website with so many data packets that it becomes overwhelmed and unavailable to visitors. Pinpointing the culprits is difficult. The attacks are relatively easy to mount, and can be performed by amateurs.

The attacks started Sunday, just before WikiLeaks released the diplomatic cables. To deal with the flood of traffic, WikiLeaks moved to Amazon.com Inc.’s Web hosting facility, which has vast numbers of servers that can be rented at need to meet surges.

Amazon booted the site on Wednesday after U.S. Congressional staffers started asking the company about its relationship to WikiLeaks. The company later said it ousted WikiLeaks because WikiLeaks doesn’t own its content and Amazon claimed it could be endangering innocent people by publishing unredacted material.

WikiLeaks has rejected the charge, and says it’s fighting to remain online.

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