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Video: Assange loyalists wage Wiki-war

  1. Transcript of: Assange loyalists wage Wiki-war

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: It doesn't seem quite real, but the world is in the midst of a kind of electronic war. The mysterious man who runs WikiLeaks and keeps his secrets in a military bunker is tonight in a London jail. And today, forces loyal to him took down the Web sites of MasterCard and Visa , and there's no real telling where this ends. Every day we learn more previously confidential state secrets on the Web for everybody to see. Every day there's new diplomatic damage done. And now there's this counterattack going on, hitting big financial interests in the US, the same companies behind the credit cards carried every day by millions of Americans. Our own Peter Alexander remains on this story. He starts us off tonight from our London bureau . Peter , good evening.

    PETER ALEXANDER reporting: Brian , good evening to you. Tonight MasterCard 's Web site is back in service, and Visa says it's working to restore its site. But for a time today both Web sites were off line, unavailable to users. The companies insist people's ability to use their cards securely was never affected. Still, this is a new offensive on what's become a virtual battlefield. Under attack, Web sites of some of the most familiar corporate names in the world, MasterCard and Visa , as well as PayPal and this Swiss bank that have all recently pulled the plug on WikiLeaks .

    Mr. BOB SULLIVAN (Msnbc.com Technology Correspondent): This clearly is a David vs. Goliath battle, and technology allows people to amass enough power that they really can go up against a major corporation.

    ALEXANDER: Who's to blame? They're online activists rushing to WikiLeaks ' defense. This evening one hacker group calling itself Anonymous shut down Visa 's Web site , tweeting, " Fire , fire, fire, weapons." They call it Operation Payback . A PayPal executive today explained that his company suspended WikiLeaks ' account after the State Department sent a letter declaring the Web site 's activities illegal. Also affected, the Web site for the Swedish prosecutor's office that issued Julian Assange 's arrest warrant.

    Ms. KAREN ROSANDER (Swedish Prosecutor's Office): Last night it suddenly went down.

    ALEXANDER: And the lawyer for the two women accusing Assange of sexual misconduct.

    Mr. SULLIVAN: If these hackers are clever, they can't be found.

    ALEXANDER: Assange 's lawyer insists the WikiLeaks founder behind bars did not orchestrate today's attacks.

    Ms. JENNIFER ROBINSON (Assange's Attorney): Mr. Assange doesn't have contact with WikiLeaks employees at all, let alone the outside world .

    ALEXANDER: WikiLeaks tweeted, "We will not be gagged." And their release of sensitive diplomatic cables continues. The latest embarrassing documents published in a British newspaper reveal the details of what a US diplomat described as wild sex and drug parties hosted by the Saudi royal family . Despite international efforts to choke off funds to WikiLeaks , the controversial site is mushrooming, with hundreds of identical mirror sites keeping them viable on line. A fight that started over national security secrets is now spreading, threatening to affect anyone who goes online. And tonight hackers are warning that Twitter , the very social media outlet they often use to post their threats, is now itself a target, Brian , because the hackers claim Twitter is censoring their online community of supporters.

    WILLIAMS: It goes on. Peter Alexander starting us off from London

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