The battle over Wikileaks has become a cyber-war, with hackers mounting retaliatory attacks on commercial sites that cut off support for the site.
A hacker coalition called Anonymous has led denial of service attacks on Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Amazon.com over the past 24 hours, taking down the credit card firm’s sites in the process, according to web monitoring firm Netcraft.
Switzerland’s PostFinance, which had closed Assange’s account was also under attack Wednesday, The Australian said.
MasterCard and Visa denied the reports of a complete take-down, but admitted traffic had slowed, the New York Times reported.
All the sites under attack have suspended Wikileaks’ accounts in the past week.
Anonymous Tweeted that the attacks, dubbed Operation Payback, were a campaign against “major anti-piracy & anti-freedom entities.” Activist Gregg Housh, said 1,500 people were involved in the attacks.
But web firms quickly hit back, with Leaseweb cutting the group off after it used the Dutch hosting company’s servers to mount some of the attacks.
Facebook removed the Anonymous page, and its Twitter account was also suspended the group announced via a new account opened later in the day.
The attacks came as PayPal denied reports it was pressured into severing ties with Wikileaks by the US government, with vice president Osama Bedier stating the firm acted to comply with local laws after the US State Department branded Wikileaks illegal.
Bedier clarified the situation in an aside with TechCrunch at a tech conference in France yesterday.
Philip Crowley, the US assistant secretary of state for public affairs, confirmed Bedier’s statement via Twitter, stating. “The U.S. government did not write to PayPal requesting any action regarding #WikiLeaks. Not true.”