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The Empire Strikes Back: Cyberhackers Attack Websites Of Companies That Blocked Wikileaks

When the power of the global establishment was brought to bear on Julian Assange and Wikileaks, this backlash was inevitable: LONDON — In a campaign that had some declaring the start of a “cyberwar,” hundreds of Internet activists

When the power of the global establishment was brought to bear on Julian Assange and Wikileaks, this backlash was inevitable:

LONDON — In a campaign that had some declaring the start of a “cyberwar,” hundreds of Internet activists mounted retaliatory attacks on Wednesday on the Web sites of multinational companies and other organizations they deemed hostile to the WikiLeaks antisecrecy organization and its jailed founder, Julian Assange.

Within 12 hours of a British judge’s decision on Tuesday to deny Mr. Assange bail in a Swedish extradition case, attacks on the Web sites of WikiLeaks’s “enemies,” as defined by the organization’s impassioned supporters around the world, caused several corporate Web sites to become unavailable or slow down markedly.

Targets of the attacks included the Web site of MasterCard, which had stopped processing donations for WikiLeaks; Amazon.com, which revoked the use of its computer servers; and the online payment service PayPal, which stopped accepting donations for Mr. Assange’s group. Visa.com was also affected by the attacks, as was the Web site of the Swedish prosecutor’s office and the lawyer representing the two women whose allegations of sexual misconduct are the basis of Sweden’s extradition bid.

The Internet assaults underlined the growing reach of self-described “cyberanarchists,” antigovernment and anticorporate activists who have made an icon of Mr. Assange, whom they consider one of their own.

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