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Dutch police arrest hacker over alleged cyber attacks

Hackers have been waging cyber war on the websites of opponents of WikiLeaks, saying they're fighting for a "free and open" Internet. Dutch police have arrested a teenager accused of taking part in the attacks.

A young man in a balaclava and gloves works on code at a computer

Hackers mostly remain undiscovered

Dutch authorities on Friday said police in the Netherlands arrested a 16-year-old who has admitted to attacking websites belonging to WikiLeaks opponents.

A spokesman for the national prosecutor's office said the teenager had "admitted launching attacks on Visa and Mastercard sites." A statement said he was probably "part of a larger group of hackers."

Hackers unite

Hackers from around the world have stepped up cyber attacks following the arrest of WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange. Assange is wanted by Sweden in connection with sexual misconduct charges

The online attacks have mainly targeted companies that have deprived WikiLeaks of their services, including the websites of the online payment service PayPal, and the credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, which had stopped processing donations for WikiLeaks. Also targeted were Amazon.com, which had banished WikiLeaks from using its rented servers, a Swiss bank and the website of the Swedish prosecutor who had issued an arrest warrant for Assange on charges of sexual misconduct.

The group of hackers, which calls itself "Anonymous," says it wants to keep the Internet open and free.

WikiLeaks has distanced itself from the cyber attacks, but said they reflected public opinion. In a statement, the organization said it had no contact with Anonymous and had not received prior notice of any of the group's actions.

Assange: "Charges fabricated"

Julian Assange speaking in front of microphones

Julian Assange says he is innocent of the charges

Assange is currently in a British jail after handing himself in to police on Tuesday.

Police have moved the WikiLeaks' chief from the main part of Wandsworth prison to an isolation unit, his lawyer said Friday.

"The prison authorities are doing it for his own safety, presumably," Jennifer Robinson, one of Assange's legal team told the AFP news agency.

Assange has been refused the use of his own laptop but will be given a prison computer with limited Internet access, the Guardian newspaper reported Friday.

Assange says the Swedish sexual misconduct charges are a fabrication intended to stop his organization from continuing to publish confidential documents.

WikiLeaks is facing international condemnation for its publication of confidential material, often concerning diplomatic relations between countries. Some of the documents have caused embarrassment to the nations concerned.

Assange is due to appear in a London court for a second time on Tuesday, when prosecutors want to question him about allegations of rape and sexual molestation made by two women.

Author: Timothy Jones, Natalia Dannenberg (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Susan Houlton

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