A group of Internet activists calling themselves Operation Payback have taken credit for shutting down the website of a bank that earlier Monday froze funds belonging to WikiLeaks.
Announcing its successful hack on a Twitter account, the group declared, “We will fire at anyone that tries to censor WikiLeaks.”
Earlier in the day, Swiss bank PostFinance issued a statement announcing that it had frozen 31,000 euro ($41,000 US) in an account set up as a legal defense fund for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The bank said it had frozen the account because, in opening it, Assange had claimed residency in Geneva.
“Assange cannot provide proof of residence in Switzerland and thus does not meet the criteria for a customer relationship with PostFinance,” the bank said.
As of Monday evening, the PostFinance website was unavailable.
With the financial noose tightening around WikiLeaks even as a legal one tightens around its founder’s neck, Operation Payback has effectively declared war on the organizations working to hobble WikiLeaks.
“In these modern times, Internet access is fast becoming a basic human right,” the group says in a video posted to YouTube. “Just like any other basic human right, we believe it is wrong to infringe upon it.”
The video continues: “To move to censor content on the Internet based on your own prejudice is, at best, laughably impossible. The unjust restrictions you impose on us will meet with disaster, and only strengthen our resolve to disobey and rebel against your tyranny.”
WikiLeaks has in recent days been under a deluge of cyber-attacks that led to its DNS registration for its .org URL being taken down, but by mid-Monday the site had reappeared on more than 500 different domains.
News sources in Britain reported late Monday that Assange has arranged to meet with British police on Tuesday, and will likely face a court hearing over an international warrant issued by Sweden in connection with accusations of sexual assault. The criminal probe does not allege non-consensual sex, only that Assange had sex with two women without a condom.
Supporters of the secret-spilling organization argue that the controversies surrounding WikiLeaks — from the unusual criminal probe against Assange, to banks freezing their funds — are part of a global campaign to shut down a website that has embarrassed world leaders on numerous occasions.
— With earlier reporting by Stephen C. Webster
The following video was posted to YouTube by Operation Payback.
McConnell bluntly defends working with Trump to undermine impeachment: ‘We’re on the same side’
Speaking in Kentucky on Friday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blithely blew off concerns about coordinating with Donald Trump's White House on how to handle the president's defense in the expected impeachment trial.
One day after admitting on Fox News that he was working hand-in-hand with the White House on impeachment tactics, McConnell was very blunt about his motivations when asked about his admission.
In a clip shared by MSNBC, the Senate leader was pressed about his plans.
"You told Sean Hannity last night you were coordinating with the White House when it comes to impeachment. Why is that appropriate?" McConnell was asked.
In impeachment spotlight, dueling views of professionalism appear
The heroes of Bastogne: 75 years on
The Battle of the Bulge was the last German offensive of World War II, and the Siege of Bastogne the scene of a heroic defence by American paratroopers.
Seventy-five years on, the Belgian town is hosting a weekend of colourful re-enactments followed by solemn ceremonies of remembrance.
Veterans, historians and military enthusiasts will join international officials to mark the now legendary close quarters battle on a snowbound wooded plateau.
Bastogne's relief in late December 1944 by General George "Old Blood and Guts" Patton helped seal his reputation as one of America's military giants.