LONDON — WikiLeaks struggled to stay online Friday as governments and hackers hounded the organization across the Internet, trying to deprive it of a direct line to the public.
WikiLeaks changed the name of its website after a U.S. company stopped directing traffic to wikileaks.org. French officials then moved to oust it from its new home.
"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.
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.
Assange's lawyer said that he is in Britain but that she hadn't received a warrant by Friday afternoon.
The 39-year-old Australian is wanted on allegations of rape and other sex crimes that emerged after a trip to Sweden in August.
Assange said that his arrest would do nothing to halt the flow of American diplomatic cables being released by his group and newspapers in several countries, and he threatened to escalate the rush of information if he is taken into custody.
"History will win," Assange said in a Web chat with readers of the Guardian newspaper, one of the media organizations helping to coordinate the documents' publication. "The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you."
WikiLeaks doesn't depend entirely on its website for disseminating secret documents; if it were knocked off the Web, the nationless organization could continue to communicate directly with news organizations. But the site provides a direct line to the public, fulfilling the organization's stated goal of maximum distribution for the secret documents it receives from mainly anonymous contributors.
EveryDNS — a company based in Manchester, New Hampshire, that had been directing traffic to the website wikileaks.org — stopped doing so 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.
By late Friday, WikiLeaks was up on at least three new websites.
The Swiss address directs traffic to servers in France, where Industry Minister Eric Besson called it unacceptable to host a site that "violates the secrecy of diplomatic relations and puts people protected by diplomatic secrecy in danger."
The general manager of French web hosting company OVH, Octave Klaba, confirmed that it had been hosting WikiLeaks since early Thursday, after a client asked for a "dedicated server with … protection against attacks."
He said the company has asked a judge to decide on the legality of hosting the site on French soil.