2010-12-06 News from the infowar front, continued [Update 2]

Today, PostFinance, the banking arm of SwissPost, announced that it closed the account created for the Julian Assange Defence Fund, on the grounds that he provided a Geneva address while not being a Swiss resident. WikiLeaks has clarified that the address provided belonged to his lawyer. PostFinance Alex Josty told AP that "That's his money, he will get his money back. We just close the account and that's it." However, Marc Andrey, another PostFinance spokesman, told The New York Times that "efforts to contact Mr. Assange to arrange for the funds in the account to be transferred had been unsuccessful." The status of the funds appears unclear.

Australia Post has announced on Friday that it would be closing the University of Melbourne Post Office on December 17, and, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, insisted that the closure "has nothing to do with the fact that Box 4080 is the Australian postal address for submissions to the whistleblower website." The post pox has long been used by WikiLeaks for submissions and donations via postal mail. "Coincidence? Or has the ever-closing security net around WikiLeaks been tightened a notch further?", asks the Herald's Daniel Flitton. "The architecture and planning building, where the post office is located, is to be demolished soon. But plans are not yet fixed and insiders expressed 'surprise' Australia Post had decided to close so early."

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the BBC reports that a new European Arrest Warrant from Sweden has reached SOCA on Monday afternoon and will be sent to the Metropolitan Police. This may be a good point at which to remind the reader that the charges for which Julian Assange faces an EAW and has been placed on the Interpol's wanted list carry a normal fine of 5,000 kronor, or 715 US dollars.

In the United States, Attorney General Eric J. Holder said that "there are other statutes, other tools at our disposal," besides the Espionage Act, that could be used to prosecute WikiLeaks, reports Reuters. "'I authorized just last week a number of things to be done so that we can get to the bottom of this and hold people accountable,' Holder said. He repeatedly refused to elaborate whether that would include search warrants. 'I personally authorized a number of things last week and that's an indication of the seriousness with which we take this matter and the highest level of involvement at the Department of Justice,' he said."

Meanwhile, in Sweden, the Pirate Party servers used to mirror WikiLeaks came under a DDoS attack, announced vice president Anna Troberg.

Coming on the heels of the Amazon, PayPal, Tableau, EveryDNS actions and political pressure from the US, French and Australian governments previously covered, are these supposedly unrelated actions just coincidences? This is a war. Where will you stand?

Update 1: Mastercard has now cut off payments to WikiLeaks, reports CNET. "MasterCard is taking action to ensure that WikiLeaks can no longer accept MasterCard-branded products," spokesman Chris Montero said. He said the reasons was that "MasterCard rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal." Let us remember that WikiLeaks has not been convicted of any illegal activity in any country, and that neither the US government nor the Australian government have been able to say which laws, exactly, WikiLeaks might have broken, despite calling the group's activities "illegal."

The Sydney Morning Herald titled its latest report PM can't say what law WikiLeaks has broken: "Prime Minister Julia Gillard has again been unable to name any Australian laws broken by the controversial WikiLeaks website or its founder Julian Assange.[...] But asked directly what Australian laws had been broken by either WikiLeaks or Mr Assange, Ms Gillard said the Australian Federal Police were investigating. "The foundation stone of it is an illegal act," Ms Gillard told reporters today.
But the "foundation stone" was the leaking of the documents to the website, not the publishing of the cables," noted the Herald.

In the meantime, Internet activist group Anonymous has temporarily taken down both PayPal's blog site, for more than eights hour, and PostFinance. PandaLabs reports.

In France, AFP reports that "A French judge declined to force web provider OVH to shut down the WikiLeaks site, OVH said on Monday, after the government called for the whistleblower website to be kicked out of France. The legal challenge came after French Industry Minister Eric Besson called for WikiLeaks to be banned from French servers after the site took refuge there on Thursday, having been expelled from the United States."

Update 2: The French Data Network has decided to host its own WikiLeaks mirror. In a long statement on its website, the provider noted: "There is a strong government commitment, strong pressure, to censor this website, without court order, even without justice having pronounced on whether the site is legal in France or not. Censorship via technical means and intermediaries, bypassing the law and courts, is precisely what FDN fights against. This is precisely the heart of our fight, to defend an open and neutral network. So, naturally, this is where we work. Wikileaks has network-related problems, and we know how to handle them."

And in the middle of all this, Julian Assange is back in the lead in TIME's Person of the Year reader poll, where you can still cast your vote.