- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WikiLeaks was on the defensive on several fronts Wednesday, scrambling to remain on the Internet and post more U.S. diplomatic documents while its fugitive founder Julian Assange was targeted by a European arrest warrant on Swedish rape charges.

Amazon.com Inc. prevented WikiLeaks from using the U.S. company’s computers to distribute embarrassing State Department communications and other documents, WikiLeaks said Wednesday. The WikiLeaks site was unavailable for several hours before it moved back to servers owned by its previous Swedish host, Bahnhof, which are housed in a protective Cold-War era bunker.

At the same time, Swedish officials intensified legal pressure on Mr. Assange by asking European police to arrest him on rape allegations that have shadowed him for weeks. Swedish Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny said that the European arrest warrant had been issued for Mr. Assange in connection with the allegations filed against him in that country.

Amazon’s move to kick WikiLeaks off its servers came after congressional staff called the company Tuesday to inquire about its relationship with WikiLeaks, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, said Wednesday.

“The company’s decision to cut off WikiLeaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material,” Mr. Lieberman said. He added that he would have further questions for Amazon about its dealings with WikiLeaks.

The White House said Wednesday it was taking new steps to protect government secrets after WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables. Officials said National Security Adviser Tom Donilon has appointed a senior aide to identify and develop reforms needed in light of the document dump.

The White House also spurned a call from Mr. Assange for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to step down if she had any role in directing U.S. diplomats’ spying on other foreign leaders. “Mr. Assange’s suggestion is ridiculous and absurd, and why anyone would find his opinion here relevant is baffling,” said spokesman Tommy Vietor, adding Mrs. Clinton was doing an “extraordinary” job. The White House says U.S. diplomats do not engage in spying.

Mrs. Clinton was in Astana, Kazakhstan, enduring repeated comments about the WikiLeaks disclosures as she met with foreign officials at a conference of international leaders.

Among those she met with was Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had been described in newly released U.S. diplomatic cables as “feckless” and a party animal.

“We have no better friend, we have no one who supports the American policies as consistently as Prime Minister Berlusconi has, starting in the Clinton administration, through the Bush administration, and now the Obama administration,” she said during a summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

A senior State Department official said that in her meeting with Mr. Berlusconi, the Italian leader raised the WikiLeaks matter, saying the publicity it had generated in Italy was a political problem for him. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to describe a private conversation, said Mrs. Clinton expressed regret for the leak, calling it an illegal act.



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