Anonymous Strikes Down Government Websites In Assange Protest

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Anonymous shows its support for Assange with attacks on DWP and the MoJ

Hacktivist collective Anonymous has claimed hits on both the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently locked in a stalemate with the UK government over his asylum in Ecuador.

Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over claims of sexual assault, but has been granted asylum in Ecuador, because he fears he will be extradited to the US if he is sent to Sweden. He is stuck in the South American country’s embassy in London because the UK police would arrest him if he leaves.

Having already denied Assange’s appeals against extradition to Sweden, the UK government has said it will not allow Assange to leave the country, as it is bound by an agreement with Sweden.

Anonymous protesters took to the street outside the embassy to show their support for Assange over the weekend, and have now reverted back to their staple tactic of hitting websites with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Government under attack

The MoJ confirmed it was having issues with its site, which was inaccessible for periods of yesterday evening and was still disrupted this morning.

“The Ministry of Justice website has been experiencing some disruption,” an MoJ spokesperson said. “This is a public information website and no sensitive data is held on it. No other Ministry of Justice systems have been affected.

“Measures put in place to keep the website running mean that some visitors may be unable to access the site intermittently. We will continue to monitor the situation and will take measures accordingly.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “The DWP website was not hacked. There was some minor disruption for a short period last night (20 August), which we are looking into. The website is working normally.”

Anonymous UK claimed to be behind attacks on the websites. The “voice” of the group, Winston Smith, told TechWeekEurope there was “strong support worldwide” for last night’s operation amongst Anonymous members.

“Anonymous believe that the current standoff resulted from a breakdown of the rule of law. That is why the attacks are against the Justice.gov.uk, to highlight their lack of independence from political interference,” he added.

“Please note Assange wants to defend himself against the charges, and believes with considerable reason that these accusations are a smoke screen for extradition [to the US].

“All major international Anonymous centres were represented last night in the protests, Anonymous wanted to show its solidarity with fight against the war on freedom of expression and human rights.

“As long as a Assange remains in captivity Anonymous will fight till its last breath.”Julian Assange, on Ecuador Embassy - from ABC coverage

Expect more

Over private Twitter messages, another prominent Anonymous member, using the handle @Anon_Online, said more attacks were being planned. “Yes, more UK Gov sites to come. Unfortunately we can’t say which ones as surprise attacks and possibly defacement but at present only DDoS,” they told TechWeekEurope.

“If this is a regular thing then it becomes a pain for the government and something needs to be done. Unfortunately we can’t see the government releasing Assange and let him walk free just because of what we do, but it sure shows we are not happy.

“Also it opens the eyes of the public to why we are doing this and makes them question our Government.”

Winston Smith said he believed more attacks were coming tonight.

Wikileaks claimed it was targeted by a DDoS earlier this month, but came back online after becoming a customer of CloudFlare, a content delivery network that provides protection against flood attacks.

Assange, meanwhile, made his first public speech from his sanctuary at the Ecuadorian embassy this weekend, calling on the US to end the “witch hunt” against whistleblowers from the balcony of the London embassy of Ecuador.

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