WikiLeaks site attacks likely by ‘state actor’: lawyer

WikiLeaks site attacks likely by ‘state actor’: lawyer

London: The lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday that a “state actor" is likely to blame for massive cyber attacks on the whistleblower website after it released secret US diplomatic cables.

Mark Stephens said the “sophisticated" efforts to take down the site may be part of a general effort to silence the elusive Assange, after Sweden said it would issue a fresh arrest warrant for him on sexual assault charges.

“Somebody, probably a state actor, has taken control of literally hundreds of thousands of vulnerable computers across the world and got them all to dial in to the WikiLeaks website simultaneously," Stephens told AFP.

“It’s very sophisticated and we know that Julian has suffered a number of such attacks, we know there have also been some odd other things going on in Sweden," added Stephens, who is based in London.

The whistleblower site was back online with a new Swiss address on Friday, six hours after its previous domain name was shut down by a US system provider following a series of attacks over the past week.

WikiLeaks has reported a string of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks since dumping the US documents on Friday, a release that has led US senators to vow to punish him and his organisation.

Assange is reportedly in hiding in Britain. Stephens would not reveal his client’s location but he said British police and Swedish authorities know where the 39-year-old Australian is and how to contact him.

“We have a situation where there are a number of coordinated actions," he said.

“And as a lawyer who has experience of acting against governments - and also for governments - I have an open and inquiring mind as to why this is all occurring in the week that the cables were released," he added.