The official website of the Swedish government, regeringen.se, was offline for several hours overnight and only a message saying the site could not be reached was visible, reports The UK Telegraph. The website was back up and running in the morning.
The hacking group Anonymous is believed to be behind Operation Payback. “The campaign is not over, it’s still going strong. More and more people are joining,” one of its members, Coldblooded, told the paper.
“I see this as becoming a war – but not a traditional war: this is a war of data,” he said, adding, “We are trying to keep the internet free for everyone.”
Operation Payback is targeting websites that have negatively affected Wikileaks in its ability to spread top-secret diplomatic cables and other correspondence. The Swedish government site, along with the Swedish prosecutor’s office, were targeted for issuing an arrest warrant for Assange on rape charges. The website for Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer representing the two women making the accusations against Assange, was also attacked.
Other targets include Visa, Mastercard, eBay and PayPal for refusing to process payments to Wikileaks; Amazon.com for removing the site from its servers; and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Sarah Palin, not only for her criticism of Assange, but simply because Anonymous does not like her.
Icelandic IT company DataCell ehf. has filed lawsuits against Visa and Mastercard for blocking the company from processing payments to Wikileaks.
Taking down a website is illegal in Great Britain, and those convicted of the crime can receive two years in jail for the offense.