London 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.
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 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.
Hundreds of cables have been published by WikiLeaks and several newspapers in recent days. Assange said that all of the cables had already been distributed in a heavily encrypted form to tens of thousands of people.
If something happens to him, he suggested, the password needed to decrypt the data will be released and all the secrets will go out at once.
“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.
In an online chat with readers of The Guardian, Assange promised to improve the availability of the website as soon as possible.
“Rest assured I am deeply unhappy that the 3 1/2 years of my work and others is not easily available or searchable by the general public,” Assange said.