WikiLeaks Confronts More Legal, Funding and Hacker Challenges

BY Chris Amico  December 6, 2010 at 4:36 PM EST

In the week since WikiLeaks began releasing a trove of diplomatic cables, the site has been attacked by hackers and senators, been kicked off Amazon’s cloud-hosting platform, lost its main U.S.-hosted domain name but still managed to stay afloat, hopping to new domains and spreading itself across a host of mirror sites.

All the while, its founder is being sought by law-enforcement authorities stemming from charges in Sweden. Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, was negotiating with British police Monday to discuss the Swedish arrest warrant, The Associated Press reported.

Over the weekend, the site began losing access to funding. On Friday, e-commerce service PayPal closed WikiLeaks’ account.

PayPal, like Amazon before it, said WikiLeaks violated its terms of service:

PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity. We’ve notified the account holder of this action.

Defenders of WikiLeaks struck back at PayPal, launching a distributed denial of service attack — much like the one aimed at WikiLeaks last week — at PayPal’s blog.

On Monday morning, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lost access to a Swiss bank account being used for a legal defense fund, The Guardian reported:

“PostFinance has ended its business relationship with … Julian Paul Assange,” the bank said in a statement.

“The Australian citizen provided false information regarding his place of residence during the account opening process.”

It said that although Assange had given his residence as an undisclosed address in Geneva, he could offer no proof of being a Swiss resident.

Assange, who has been staying at an undisclosed location in Britain, is accused of rape and sexual molestation in one Swedish case and of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion in another, according to the AP.

The WikiLeaks founder has denied the allegations, which Stephens has said stem from a “dispute over consensual but unprotected sex.” Stephens said Sunday that the Swedish investigation — which has involved prosecutors overruling each other and disputes over whether the most serious allegation constitutes rape — had turned into a “political stunt.”

Here’s a round-up of some of the latest reporting from around the Web on the ongoing WikiLeaks story: