The Anonymous hacktivist movement's #OpFreeAssange operation has moved beyond Britain into Swedish cyberspace.
Niklas Englund, head of Swedish Armed Forces digital media, told the Associated Press that several government sites experienced distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks yesterday (Sept. 3) from an unknown source.
The affected websites, according to Englund, were Sweden.se, the country's tourism site, and those of the armed forces and the Swedish Institute, a massage-therapy college. The sites appeared to be up and operating normally this morning (Sept. 4).
The attacks may be connected to Sweden's request that the British government extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for questioning in connection with alleged sexual assaults.
Englund said an unnamed group took credit for the attack. Various Twitter accounts associated with the Anonymous movement have claimed responsibility.
Assange has lived for over two months in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, out of reach of British authorities, since a British court ruled he could be extradited to Sweden. Ecuador granted Assange political asylum last month, but Assange has been unable to reach the airport because of a police barricade around the embassy.
Last month, William Hague, the British foreign secretary and a former head of the Conservative Party, claimed the British government had the right to enter the embassy to arrest Assange.
Assange and his supporters fear that if he is extradited to Sweden, he will then be sent on to the United States, where he might be prosecuted for posting U.S. diplomatic cables allegedly provided to WikiLeaks by U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning. Manning is in a military prison, but Assange has not been charged with anything in the U.S.
WikiLeaks itself has been the victim of DDoS attacks. The pro-transparency website spent a week offline last month immediately after it began publishing emails stolen from the consulting firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc., about a purported network of surveillance cameras called TrapWire.
Anonymous and WikiLeaks have had a cozy relationship for quite some time. The hacktivist organization regularly provides WikiLeaks with sensitive, often embarrassing information and data obtained by exploiting security flaws on various online networks.
This summer Anonymous provided WikiLeaks with more than 2 million emails stolen from the Syrian government and Syrian businesses.
The hackers also targeted websites of organizations that sought to censor the material or cut off WikiLeaks' sources of income, including Visa, PayPal and the governments of Sweden and Zimbabwe.