The WikiLeaks website was fighting to stay online Saturday after Sweden issued a new arrest warrant for its elusive chief and it battled cyber attacks and government attempts to silence it.
The whistleblowing website’s founder Julian Assange briefly broke cover to say he had boosted his security after receiving death threats amid the storm unleashed by his site’s publication of some 250,000 US diplomatic cables.
In Stockholm, Swedish prosecutors issued a new international arrest warrant for Assange -- who is believed to be in Britain -- on sex assault allegations that incorporated missing elements requested by British police.
“They were asking for additional information concerning the maximum penalty for all the crimes and infractions on the file. We usually only include the most severe offence,” which was rape in this case, prosecution office spokeswoman Karin Rosander told AFP.
Reports in Britain said Assange could be arrested within 10 days.
The website was forced to turn to Switzerland for a new domain name after its original wikileaks.org address was shut down by an American provider, while Paris tried to ban French servers from hosting it.
The Swiss address was up and running on Saturday again after migrating to new servers to buck closure by its US host, the group which owns the name said.
“About two hours after the deactivation of wikileaks.ch by EveryDNS.net we acquired a heap of redundant DNS Servers,” the Swiss Pirates Party said.
It earlier listed another 21 alternative websites where WikiLeaks could also be found, many of them European domain names and including its German counterpart.
Wikileaks.ch was itself taken offline by then US host provider EveryDNS.net late Friday, hours after being set up by Swiss supporters as an alternative to Assange’s blocked wikileaks.org.
The Swiss Pirates Party, which campaigns for Internet freedoms and transparency, was founded in 2009.
Denis Simonet, who heads the group, told AFP it had registered the domain name wikileaks.ch six months ago.
“We did it to support WikiLeaks,” he said, adding that it was not done at the request of Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblower site.
The link to the Swiss Pirates Party’s Wikileaks broader access list is at http://www.pirateparty.ch/wikileaks_ch_blocked.
The latest cables released by the site showed US officials suspected that Yemen had a secret cache of shoulder-fired missiles that could have threatened US forces if the weapons fell into the wrong hands.
Other cables highlighted what US officials described as Britain’s “paranoia” about its so-called special relationship with Washington.
In an online question and answer session with The Guardian newspaper, Assange vowed to resist the “attacks against us by the US.”
“The threats against our lives are a matter of public record. However, we are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a superpower,” the 39-year-old Australian wrote.
Former US Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has said those responsible for supplying the leaked cables should face execution, while some pundits have called for Assange to be assassinated.
Assange’s lawyer in London, Mark Stephens, said that neither Scotland Yard nor he had received the new arrest warrant released by Sweden.
Stephens linked the warrant to “sophisticated” efforts to take down the website, suggesting that a “state actor” was behind efforts to silence Assange.
In France, Industry Minister Eric Besson called for WikiLeaks to be banned from French servers, saying it was endangering lives.
“France cannot host Internet sites that violate the confidentiality of diplomatic relations and put in danger people protected by diplomatic secrecy,” Besson wrote to the main body governing the Internet in France.
Amazon booted WikiLeaks off its computer servers on Wednesday following pressure from US politicians, and a day later a group of senators introduced legislation to make it illegal to publish the names of informants serving the US military and intelligence community.
WikiLeaks branded Amazon “cowardly” in a Twitter message on Friday.
The White House told government agencies Friday to take measures to prevent employees without proper authorisation from accessing classified US diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks.
The US military in Iraq was trying to prevent soldiers from viewing WikiLeaks documents and has posted a web advisory suggesting they could be breaking the law, a spokeswoman said on Saturday.
The warning, posted Friday, pops up on the US military’s unclassified network, NIPRNet, before soldiers can access news and other websites and tells troops they should not view, download, or forward the secret releases.
But Staff Sergeant Kelli Lane said the military was not blocking the Internet.
“USF-I has not blocked any news websites from being read,” the US army press officer said in an e-mail to AFP.
Lane said that the advisory only serves as a warning and does not prohibit armed forces personnel from viewing the news websites. She did not say which news websites were affected.