As expected, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange is getting support from cyberhackers who have launched what is being called the first information war. The surprise is that suddenly the Australian government is backing their native son. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says the U.S. government is responsible for leaks Assange made available to the international media.
"Mr. Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorized release of the U.S. diplomatic communications network. The Americans are responsible for that," Rudd told Reuters on Wednesday. Former Foreign Minister John Howard agreed. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who earlier called Assange irresponsible, defended Rudd.
"Any journalist will publish confidential information if he or she gets hold of it, subject only to compelling national security interests," said Howard. "The bad people in this little exercise are the people who gave the information to him. because they breached the trust."
Assange is being held in a British jail on dubious Swedish reports of rape and sexual molestation involving two women. Media reports said the accusations result from a failure to use a condom. WikiLeaks' supporters say it is a plot to get Assange to Sweden because it would allow the U.S. to extradite him. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised British police for arresting Assange.
Rudd did not comment on leaks of military action reports. They are considered much more sensitive because of the alleged possibility they could result in harm to soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Meanwhile, a group of cyberhackers or "hacktivists," took down several Websites in support of Assange. They reportedly included a Website of the Swiss Postal Service, because the government froze a Wikileaks' account, Master Card and PayPal sites, for refusing to accept donations intended for the whistleblowers, and even the Swedish prosecutors who want to bring Assange back to Sweden to face rape and sexual molestation charges.
The hackers' group is called 4Chan and its members "Anonymous." It has a mixed reputation with some defending its operations.
PandaSecurity said the group brought down the Swedish prosecutor's office for a period Tuesday night and Wednesday morning before it was restored.
The Swedish news website The Local said the attacks on the post office, commercial companies and Swedish prosecutors was named "Operation Avenge Assange."