Image: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Martial Trezzini  /  EPA file
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaking about his organization during a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland on Nov. 4.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 6/6/2011 10:00:31 PM ET 2011-06-07T02:00:31

WikiLeaks became an Internet vagabond Friday, moving from one website to another as governments and hackers hounded the organization, trying to deprive it of a direct line to the public.

The organization that has embarrassed Washington and foreign leaders by releasing a cache of secret — and brutally frank — U.S. diplomatic cables found a new home after an American company stopped directing traffic to wikileaks.org. Then French officials moved to oust it from its new site.

By late Friday, WikiLeaks was up in at least three new places.

"The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops," tweeted John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the online free-speech group Electronic Frontier Foundation. His message was reposted by WikiLeaks to its 300,000-odd followers.

In other WikiLeaks developments on Friday:

Legal pressure on Assange
Legal pressure increased on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Swedish authorities revised a warrant for his arrest in response to procedural questions from British officials.

British law enforcement authorities have refused to say if or when Assange would be arrested. His lawyers have said they believe they would be notified of any move to arrest him but had yet to be served with a warrant as of Friday afternoon.

The Europe-wide arrest warrant for Assange is over allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion, but the exact nature of the allegations are still unclear.

Bjorn Hurtig, Assange's attorney in Sweden, repeated Assange's denials of a sexual crime in Sweden and said any evidence against him was "very, very weak."

"One woman says it's rape another woman says it's a sexual offense," Hurtig said. "I will not say if he says he has had sex with them. I will tell you he denies rape, he denies sexual offenses, he denies having committed any sort of crime against these women or against any other person."

Assange will fight extradition to Sweden if arrested, Hurtig said. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, has been out of public sight for nearly a month.  

Yemen revelation
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh secretly offered U.S. forces open access to his country to launch attacks against al Qaeda targets, according to U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks and cited by media.

Saleh told U.S. President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser John Brennan in September 2009: "I have given you an open door on terrorism. So I am not responsible," according to reports in Britain's The Guardian and The New York Times.

Rift delays Libya nuclear shipment
A deal to have a stockpile of spent nuclear fuel removed from Libya and buried in Russia was briefly delayed by a dispute, according to diplomatic cables released on Friday.

The highly enriched uranium remained behind in a lightly guarded research center, apparently because of a fit of pique by Libya’s mercurial leader Muammar Gaddafi.

After a frantic exchange, American and Russian officials smoothed out Gaddafi's ruffled feathers and the stockpile was shipped to Russia for safe keeping.

Ron Paul backs WikiLeaks
Writing to his followers on Twitter, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas appeared to back the release of the secret diplomatic cables.

"Re: Wikileaks - In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble."

He made similar comments in an interview with Fox Business on Thursday, saying the WikiLeaks founder should receive the same protections as mainstream media when releasing information.

Alleged leaker an 'unparralled hero'
Assange did an online question-and-answer session with readers of London's Guardian newspaper

Assange described Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was detained in connection with the leaked documents, as an "unparalleled hero" — if it was he who leaked the cables to WikiLeaks, he said.

He also said there were some references to UFOs in "yet-to-be-published parts of the cablegate archive."

In addition, he addressed threats to his life. "We are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a super power," he said.

Mom proud
Assange's mother spoke out again in support of her son in an interview with The Times newspaper in the U.K.

"I'm proud of Jules," Christine Assange, who runs a puppet theater in Queensland, Australia, said. "The whole issue is whether what he is doing is good or not and if the information is relevant, which it is."

She also said that instead of religion, she taught her son ethics as a child.

More on server troubles
WikiLeaks has been brought down numerous times this week by what appear to be denial-of-service attacks. In a typical such attack, remote computers commandeered by rogue programs bombard a website with so many data packets that it becomes overwhelmed and unavailable to visitors. Pinpointing the culprits is difficult. The attacks are relatively easy to mount and can be performed by amateurs.

The American company that hosted the website wikileaks.org dropped the site late Thursday after cyber attacks threatened the rest of its network. WikiLeaks responded by moving to a Swiss domain name, wikileaks.ch, and calling on activists for support. Two companies host the Swiss domain name, one of which is in France. The other is in Sweden.

On Friday, the French government moved to ban WikiLeaks from French servers.

Industry Minister Eric Besson says it's "unacceptable" for French servers to host the site, which "violates the secret of diplomatic relations and puts people protected by diplomatic secrets in danger."

WikiLeaks' server provider, EveryDNS, "terminated" its services for the wikileaks.org name. It said it took the action because the new hacker attacks threatened the rest of its network of nearly 500,000 other websites.

Video: Attorney: Assange rape case ‘personal, not political’

Andre Rickardsson, an expert on file-sharing and information technology security at Sweden's Bitsec Consulting, said domain name providers normally don't drop their clients unless the clients themselves have breached their user contract.

"WikiLeaks is not behind the disturbance here, but individuals trying to disturb WikiLeaks' operations," he said.

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Rickardsson said he had never experienced a user being shut off under similar circumstances.

"I don't believe for a second that this has been done by EveryDNS themselves. I think they've been under pressure," he said referring to U.S. authorities.

U.S.-based Amazon booted WikiLeaks from the site on Wednesday after U.S. congressional staffers started asking the company about its relationship to WikiLeaks. Amazon said it ousted the organization in part because the leaks could endanger innocent people.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Assange declares that ‘history will win’

  1. Closed captioning of: Assange declares that ‘history will win’

    >>> new trouble tonight for wikileaks . it's had to find a new address on the web, because two u.s. internet servers have dumped it and others are trying to do the same. meanwhile, in a web chat with readers of britain's guardian newspaper , the founder of wikileaks , julian assange, who is wanted in sweden for alleged sex crimes , said "history will win, the world will be elevated to a better place. will we survive? that depends on you." as for the millions of online documents wikileaks has obtained, the camp surrounding julian assange says those secrets remain safely stored in his former military bunker in sweden.

Photos: Wikileaks

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