Published: Dec 03, 2010 12:11 PM EST
Updated: Dec 03, 2010 9:12 AM EST

      STOCKHOLM (AP) - Wikileaks was forced Friday to switch over to a
Swiss domain name, wikileaks.ch, after a new round of hacker
attacks on its system prompted its American domain name provider to
withdraw service.
      WikiLeaks' U.S. domain name system provider, EveryDNS, withdrew
service to the wikileaks.org name late Thursday, saying it took the
action because the new hacker attacks threatened the rest of its
network.
      "Wikileaks.org has become the target of multiple distributed
denial of service attacks. These attacks have, and future attacks
would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure,"
EveryDNS said in a statement.
      EveryDNS provides access to some 500,000 websites.
      In a tweet on Friday, the owner of EveryDNS, Dynamic Network
Services Inc., wrote that "trust is paramount: Our users and
customers are our most important asset." It did not specify
whether it was referring to WikiLeaks, however.
      WikiLeaks confirmed the move in a separate tweet, saying
"WikiLeaks.org domain killed by US everydns.net after claimed mass
attacks." It was not clear where the alleged attacks were coming
from.
      WikiLeaks has previously claimed that intelligence agencies from
the U.S. and elsewhere have been targeting its site, which has
spilled thousands of embarrassing U.S. diplomatic cables as well as
classified U.S. military documents.
      Earlier this week, WikiLeaks' Swedish server host, Bahnhof,
confirmed that the website had been hit by a cyber attack just
before it leaked thousands of classified U.S. diplomatic cables.
      In addition to the latest batch of sensitive documents,
WikiLeaks has angered the U.S. and other governments by publishing
almost half a million secret documents about the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq. It is not clear how WikiLeaks obtained the
diplomatic documents, but the U.S. government's prime suspect is an
Army private, Bradley Manning, who is in custody on charges of
leaking other classified documents to WikiLeaks.
      On Wednesday, Amazon.com Inc. - which had provided WikiLeaks
with use of its servers to distribute embarrassing State Department
communications and other documents - evicted it. The site remains
on the servers of its Swedish provider.
      The ouster from Amazon came after congressional staff questioned
the company about its relationship with WikiLeaks. Sen. Joe
Lieberman praised Amazon's action and said it should "set the
standard" for companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute
"illegally seized material"
      In its decision to terminate the service for Wikileaks, EveryDNS
cited what it called a violation of the provision stating that a
member should "not interfere with another member's use and
enjoyment of the service."
      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.
      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.
      Mark Stephens, the London-based lawyer for WikiLeaks founder
Julian Assange, also speculated that outside pressure had forced
EveryDNS to pull the plug on WikiLeaks.
      "Pressure appears to have been applied to close the WikiLeaks
domain name," he wrote on the micro-blogging website.
      Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, has been out of public sight
for nearly a month. Sweden has issued an Europe-wide arrest warrant
for him over allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful
coercion, but the exact nature of the allegations are still
unclear.
      Assange's Swedish and British lawyers claim their client has
attempted to assist in the questioning but so far Sweden has turned
down his offers. According to his lawyers, he has also yet to
receive formal notice of the allegations.
      An American defense official has also indicated that U.S.
government lawyers are investigating whether Assange can be
prosecuted for spying. He is also risks legal action in his
homeland, where Australia's Attorney General Robert McClelland has
said Australia would detain Assange if possible in response to the
warrant filed in the Swedish case by Interpol.
      Assange has spoken publicly lately only through online
interviews.