Hacker Group Anonymous Targets U.K. Web Sites in Support of Julian Assange

Julian Assange - arrives at the High Court in central London - P - 2011
Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

In protest of the British government's handling of the Wikileaks founder's extradition case, the collective launched denial-of-service attacks.

LONDON - Computer hacking collective Anonymous said Tuesday that it has launched cyber attacks on British government websites to protest the U.K.'s plans to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The loose group of so-called "hacktivists" claimed responsibility on Twitter for so-called denial-of-service attacks that started late Monday and continued into Tuesday.

The BBC reported that they attacked the websites of the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office, among others. It said that by Tuesday afternoon, most of the affected websites appeared to be operating normally. No serious damage seemed to have been done.

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A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice website told the BBC that the ministry's site "had been experiencing some disruption," but added: "This is a public information website, and no sensitive data is held on it. No other Ministry of Justice systems have been affected."

The Guardian late Monday afternoon said Anonymous also targeted the websites of the British Prime Minister and the Home Office early on Tuesday under what it called "Operation Free Assange." A Home Office spokeswoman told the paper that "the Home Office website was not hacked." Targeted by protesters, it "only experienced very minor interruption to the service."

Assange has been in Ecuador's embassy in London since June to avoid extradition to Sweden, with the Latin American country granting him political asylum last week. But the U.K. has said he would be arrested if and when he leaves the embassy.

Anonymous vowed to continue targeting government sites amid the continuing Assange saga.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai