PARIS (Reuters) - WikiLeaks directed readers to a web address in Switzerland on Friday after two U.S. Internet providers ditched it in the space of two days, and Paris tried to ban French servers from hosting its trove of leaked data.
The Internet publisher directed users to www.wikileaks.ch after the wikileaks.org site on which it had published classified U.S. government information vanished from view for about six hours.
A Dutch- and a German-based site, www.wikileaks.nl and www.wikileaks.de , were also giving readers access to the leaked documents.
EveryDNS.net, which helps computers to locate the sites of its members, said it had stopped providing services to WikiLeaks at 10 p.m. U.S. Eastern time on Thursday.
WikiLeaks had turned to EveryDNS and host servers in Europe after Amazon.com stopped hosting the site on Thursday.
The United States is furious about WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of confidential diplomatic cables that have given unvarnished and sometimes embarrassing insights into the foreign policy of the United States and its allies.
Amazon denied it was under pressure from lawmakers, saying WikiLeaks had breached its terms by not owning the rights to the content it was publishing. But U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Joe Lieberman questioned Amazon about its relationship with WikiLeaks on Tuesday and called on other companies that host websites to boycott WikiLeaks.
To run a website, WikiLeaks needs three things above all: computer servers that hold or “host” its content; a “registrar” that enables it to own a particular domain, such as “wikileaks.ch” or “wikileaks.org”; and a provider such as EveryDNS that links the hosts and the names together so that users can use a particular address or URL such as www.wikileaks.ch to call up a website behind it.
In a letter seen by Reuters on Friday, France’s Industry Minister Eric Besson said he would try to ensure that WikiLeaks could no longer be hosted in France.
WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, said in an online discussion with readers of Britain’s Guardian newspaper he had expected clampdowns in countries that championed free speech:
“Since 2007 we have been deliberately placing some of our servers in jurisdictions that we suspected suffered a free speech deficit in order to separate rhetoric from reality. Amazon was one of these cases.”
Michiel Leenaars, director of strategy at the Dutch Internet research group NLnet, said any attempt to stop WikiLeaks’ information from being published was doomed.
“It’s an arms race,” he said. “The information is out there and people are publishing and republishing it around the planet. Over 2,000 people are seeding it as we speak.”
EveryDNS.net said the WikiLeaks web address that it administered had been bombarded by unidentified Internet hackers, undermining the service it provides to other clients.
“These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure, which enables access to almost 500,000 other websites,” it said.
All Internet domains with the suffix “.ch” are administered by Switch, a Swiss academic organization.
On Friday, the Pirate Party of Switzerland — part of an international movement fighting for the free sharing of online content — said it owned the “wikileaks.ch” domain name and was happy to support WikiLeaks.
“I don’t see an opportunity for a foreign government to reach into Switzerland,” said Leenaars. “This is a very forward-looking move.”
The U.S. government showed on Monday it was prepared to shut websites when it seized the domain names of 82 organizations that it said were involved in selling counterfeit goods.
Wikileaks has no shortage of supporters internationally, with some half a million fans on Facebook — some of whom are almost certainly capable of hosting some or all of its data.
But the United States and other governments look to be hoping that a wider backlash will make it harder for Assange, deter other potential leakers and possibly prevent Wikileaks from releasing all 250,000 unredacted cables.
So far, the only cables released have been linked to specific stories in the associated newspapers, and have had sensitive names and details blocked out, or “redacted.”
“Wikileaks will survive somewhere because that’s how the information age works, but the unity of the fightback from governments is striking,” said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst at Control Risks.
Additional reporting by Nick Pollard in Stockholm, Peter Apps in London and Sven Egenter in Zurich; Editing by Kevin Liffey