Hacktivists attack Brit Govt websites

Aug 22, 2012, 07:10 IST | Agencies

Computer hacking collective Anonymous says it attacked government websites in retaliation for the UK's handling of the WikiLeaks founder's case

Hackers launched a spate of cyber attacks on British government websites to protest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to Sweden.

It claimed responsibility on Twitter for the denial-of-service attacks. Websites affected include those of No 10 Downing Street and the Home Office.

Operation Free Assange: Supporters chant slogans for Julian Assange. They have demanded that UK allow Assange a safe passage to Ecaudor where he has been granted asylum. Pics/AFP, Getty Images

The Wikileaks founder is staying at Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex assault claims, which he denies. He was granted asylum by the country last week.

He has been at the embassy since June and on Sunday addressed crowds of his supporters from the embassy’s balcony, thanking Ecuador and other South American countries for their support.

The UK has insisted it is obliged to extradite Assange, and wants a diplomatic solution, making clear that Assange will be arrested if he leaves the embassy.

But Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said the UK would be committing diplomatic ‘suicide’ if it tried to enter his country's embassy.
Meanwhile, Swedish prosecutors said they remain determined to question Assange in Sweden, rejecting a suggestion from Correa that prosecutors could travel to London to question Assange. Anonymous, a loose collective of computer hackers, has gained notoriety by launching denial-of-service attacks, which flood websites with requests, causing them to operate more slowly or fail, on international government and corporate websites since 2010.

The latest attacks were launched on Monday and most of the affected websites appear to be operating normally now.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice website said it “had been experiencing some disruption”.

A later statement said: “The Ministry of Justice website was the subject of an online attack last night. This is a public information website and no sensitive data is held on it. No other Ministry of Justice systems have been affected.”

The statement added, “Measures put in place to keep the website running mean that some visitors may be unable to access the site intermittently. We will continue to monitor the situation and will take measures accordingly.” 

If Assange faces death row in US, we won’t extradite him: Sweden
The Swedish government will not extradite Assange to the US should he face the death penalty there, as any possible extradition request from Washington is then subject to strict conditions, an official from the country’s Justice Ministry declared. “We will never surrender a person to the death penalty,” the deputy director of the Service for Criminal Cases and International Cooperation of Sweden’s Justice Ministry said in an interview. This means there should be strict guarantees from the US government that “the prisoner will not be executed in any case,” added Cecilia Riddselius. But, she added, so far her country has not received any extradition request from Washington. 

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