2012-12-22 Swedish military reportedly shuts down pro-WikiLeaks transparency websites

Earlier this month, the pro-WikiLeaks Swedish transparency websites Under Mattan and Corruptio were shut down by their web host, allegedly at the request of Sweden's armed forces. Without prior warning or explanation, the ISP Blog.com pulled the plug on Under Mattan (translation: "Under the Rug") soon after the site posted documents that indicated Swedish military involvement in the Assange case, and that also showed possible allegiances between Sweden's media and armed forces in connection with the Assange investigation.

One source apparently affiliated with Under Mattan stated that, when the site's owners tried to contact Blog.com after the shutdown, "The people at the ISP Blog.com refuse{d} to take our calls or reply to our inquiries." However, Crikey now reports that, according to Under Mattan, the ISP has stated that it took down the site at the behest of the Swedish Army's Special Intelligence unit.

Active for 15 months, the website Under Mattan published copious amounts of Swedish government documents obtained via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. Recently, many of the published files addressed Sweden's handling of the investigation of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange. Under Mattan released communications supporting the Assange legal team's assertions that Swedish prosecutors had repeatedly refused attempts by Assange's lawyers to have the WikiLeaks publisher interviewed in Sweden regarding sexual assault allegations. The site had also published the police interrogations relating to the investigation, as well as numerous files that were unavailable elsewhere on the internet. According to Rixstep, Under Mattan had recently published "transcripts of SMS messages to and from the office of {Swedish prosecutor} Marianne Ny that might have been the last straw".

Moreover, before the takedown, the website allegedly revealed "suspicious and possible criminal activity by Swedish intelligence and the Swedish ... foreign affairs department". Rixstep's source at Under Mattan stated that those at the site had discovered that the Swedish government had censored it "for at least a half year through Swedish intel. Our estimation is that throttling access to the site eliminated between 50% and 90% of all traffic. The site was shut down a couple of days after this information was made public." This source concluded that the Swedish government - including its military intelligence agency and its foreign office - had the site closed, as these agencies "were ... exposed in the documents uploaded immediately prior to the shutdown." A web tool that Under Mattan used to track its site traffic revealed that Sweden's parliament, military, national police, and court authority ranked among the transparency website's most frequent visitors.

In a press release after the shutdown, Under Mattan pointed out:

"When websites and blogs in China, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are shut down by totalitarian regimes, the media often react with revulsion at such undemocratic measures...

"As we all know, censorship is common when dictatorships want to keep 'dangerous' information from the people - information that the dictatorships feel threatened by. The opposite of censorship is freedom of information. And many people believe we have freedom of information in Sweden.

"But our site Undermattan.com has just demonstrated that we have censorship in Sweden. Swedish authorities shut down our site and refuse to say why - just like they do in China."

This month Blog.com also reportedly closed down the Swedish leaks site Corruptio. Both Corruptio and Under Mattan published files on Sweden's military and on the country's engagement in Afghanistan.

Under Mattan has issued the following statement:

"Press Statement from 'Under Mattan'

"Swedish Government Behind Shutdown of Pro-Assange Undermattan.com

"Blog.com International shut down the famous Swedish free political investigative website and blog http://undermattan.com without any explanation or prior notice.

"The site went dark shortly after it revealed the Swedish army's involvement and their possible connection to the Swedish media in the Julian Assange case.

"The shutdown came as the above topic was being discussed at the Flashback forum. Independent sources say the shutdown was carried out at the behest of Swedish authorities acting on behalf of the government.

"Similar behaviour by Swedish authorities had been observed and documented in both 2011 and 2012.

"The shutdown was carried out in a manner normally associated with Middle Eastern regimes - without prior notice and in the middle of the night. Now no one is willing to answer questions or to reveal the reasons for the action.

"So far there have been no arrests.

"Under Mattan hosts a large amount of public information obtained through freedom of information requests regarding the Swedish government's handling of the Julian Assange case. The site had amongst other things published documents related to Anna Ardin, Julian Assange, Björn Hurtig, Erika Leijnefors, Marianne Ny and Sofia Wilén, many of which had not been found elsewhere on the web.

"Before the shutdown, the website also revealed some suspicious and possibly criminal activity by Swedish intelligence and the Swedish foreign office where minister for foreign affairs Carl Bildt is in charge."

Rixstep reported that the individuals affiliated with Under Mattan "continue to work behind the scenes".

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