WikiLeaks, hammered by attacks, loses Amazon host

By Chris Lefkow

WASHINGTON - Amazon, after coming under fire for hosting WikiLeaks, booted it from its servers on Wednesday, prompting the whistleblower website to shift to Web-hosting services in Europe.

"This morning Amazon informed my staff that it has ceased to host the WikiLeaks website," Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

"I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on WikiLeaks' previous publication of classified material," the independent senator from Connecticut said.

WikiLeaks, in a message on its Twitter feed @wikileaks, said: "WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free - fine our dollars are now spent to employ people in Europe."

The WikiLeaks website was sluggish and periodically unavailable on Wednesday but it was not immediately clear if this was due to its hosting issues or if it had again come under cyberattack as in previous days.

Lieberman said Amazon's decision to cut off WikiLeaks "is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material."

WikiLeaks on Sunday began publishing the first batch of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables the website is believed to have obtained from a disaffected US soldier.

Amazon is a major provider of Web-hosting services, renting out space on its computer servers to customers around the world. It has not responded to repeated requests from AFP for confirmation that it was hosting WikiLeaks.

But Jon Karlung, chairman of the Swedish firm Bahnhof, which also hosts some WikiLeaks documents, said Tuesday that the WikiLeaks website featuring the US diplomatic cables was being primarily hosted by the Seattle-based Amazon.

Lieberman urged any other company hosting WikiLeaks to "immediately terminate its relationship with them."

"WikiLeaks' illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world," Lieberman said.

"No responsible company - whether American or foreign - should assist WikiLeaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials," he said.

"I will be asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with WikiLeaks and what it and other Web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information," Lieberman added.

The global police agency Interpol has issued a global wanted notice for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on suspicion of rape, on the basis of a Swedish arrest warrant. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian believed to be in hiding in Europe, has denied the charges.

WikiLeaks said Sunday and again on Monday that it was the target of distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks aimed at shutting down or slowing the website.

Classic DDoS attacks occur when legions of "zombie" computers, normally machines infected with viruses, are commanded to simultaneously visit a website, overwhelming servers or knocking them offline completely.

On Monday, a computer hacker known as the "Jester" claimed responsibility for temporarily taking down the WikiLeaks website on Sunday.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at computer security firm F-Secure, said he believed the "Jester," who has targeted Islamic jihadist websites in the past, had the ability to carry out the attack on WikiLeaks.

"He's demonstrated previously that he is capable of launching effective denial-of-service attacks, and he's claimed the responsibility for this one as well," Hypponen said. "He has the capability and the motive."

- AFP


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