In an apparent response to an internationally popular petition on, hackers launched a coordinated DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on early Monday from inside China, spokesman Benjamin Joffe-Walt said in a blog post. believes the hackers were spurred by the popular petition calling for the release of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, which garnered more than 90,000 signatures from people in more than 175 countries by Monday morning. Before the attacks left the site crippled, it was attracting more than 10,000 new signatures per day.

The DDoS attacks crippled the site for several hours on Monday morning, and spurred to request assistance from the FBI and State Department. founder Ben Rattray said, “We do not know the reason or exact source of these attacks,” but added that they were a "sophisticated" attack emanating from locations within China.

[Image via Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.vom, Creative Commons licensed]