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Morning hash: WikiLeaks case takes multiple turns

Dec 07, 20102 mins
Core Java

The WikiLeaks story continues to snowball in weird ways.

For starters, there’s the arrest of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange this morning. According to my IDG News Service colleague Jeremy Kirk, Assange, 39, of Australia, has been accused of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape stemming from incidents with two women in Sweden in August.

Kirk writes: “He was arrested by the Metropolitan Police’s Extradition Unit at 9:30 a.m, GMT and is due to appear later on Tuesday in City of Westminster Magistrates Court. A magistrate will likely set bail for Assange, according to a police spokesman.”

It’s probable that his legal woes would be getting much less attention if not for the firestorm that’s been going on this past week over WikiLeaks.

The WikiLeaks case has been compared to that of the New York Times in the “Pentagon Papers” case. Some argue that WikiLeaks is providing a valuable service that’s exposing government wrongdoings around the world. Others, including the U.S. Department of State, say the site is a danger to national security.

Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated her earlier stance that the theft of U.S. government information and its publication is “deeply distressing.”

According to a RTTNews report, Clinton said “the illegal publication of classified information poses real concerns and even potential damage to our friends and partners around the world.”

Others around the world would seem to agree, if the DDoS attacks against WikiLeaks is any indication. The site has been under repeated barrage and, making this all a little weirder, rival DDoS attacks are starting to happen.

Jaikumar Vijayan, my colleague over at Computerworld, writes that, according to researchers at PandaLabs, “An anonymous, loosely affiliated group that has been responsible for a series of recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks against entertainment industry Web sites over copyright issues, has started attacking organizations viewed as being hostile to WikiLeaks.”

Expect this story to stay in the headlines for a long, long time to come. It’s arguably the biggest national security vs. freedom of information case to come along in a generation.

–Bill Brenner