Home Office and Ministry of Justice targeted by Anonymous hackers in Assange protest

 

Computer hacking collective Anonymous claims it has attacked a number of Government websites in protest over the Julian Assange case.

Websites including that of the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice were affected by the group, which has been using the hashtag "OpFreeAssange" on Twitter.

WikiLeaks founder Mr Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations, has been seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for two months with the British authorities threatening to arrest him if he steps outside.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "The Ministry of Justice website was the subject of an online attack last night at around 2000 hours.

"This is a public information website and no sensitive data is held on it. No other Ministry of Justice systems have been affected.

"Measures put in place to keep the website running mean that some visitors may be unable to access the site intermittently.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and will take measures accordingly."

A spokeswoman for the Home Office denied its website was "hacked", but added: "It was targeted by protesters on Monday night but only experienced very minor interruption to the service.

"We had measures in place to protect the site and no other Home Office systems were affected."

It is the latest development in the diplomatic row between the South American country and the UK.

Last night Ecuador's president Rafael Correa said it would be "suicide for Great Britain" if authorities tried to enter his country's embassy to reach Mr Assange.

Speaking on state television, Mr Correa said such a course of action would be "suicide for Great Britain because then people could enter their diplomatic premises all around the world and they wouldn't be able to say a thing".

He added: "While the United Kingdom hasn't retracted nor apologised, the danger still exists.

"Remember that David beat Goliath. And with many Davids it's easier to bring down a number of Goliaths.

"So we're hoping for clear and coherent backing because this violates all inter-American law, all international law, the Vienna Convention and all diplomatic traditions of the last, at least, 300 years on a global scale."

Foreign ministers from across South America have called for dialogue between the two countries, issuing a statement of support for Ecuador following the meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) in the country.

In the statement, released after the 20-minute meeting, the ministers "condemned the threat of the use of force between states" and reiterated "the right of states to concede asylum".

Unasur's meeting was held a day after Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Argentina endorsed Ecuador's asylum decision.

Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Chile are among Latin American nations that have not taken a stand.

On Sunday, Mr Assange made his first public appearance since he entered the building, calling on Washington to "renounce its witch-hunt" against WikiLeaks.

The Australian thanked Ecuador for taking a "stand for justice" in giving him political asylum when he spoke from the embassy's balcony.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has made it clear Mr Assange will not be allowed safe passage out of the UK.

Mr Assange denies the allegations and fears being transferred to America if he travels to contest them.

He enraged the US government in 2010 when WikiLeaks published tranches of secret US diplomatic cables.

During his speech, Mr Assange thanked Ecuador and other helpful South American nations and supporters around the world.

He said: "On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy, the police descended on this building. You came out in the middle of the night to watch over it, and you brought the world's eyes with you.

"Inside this embassy in the dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up inside the building through its internal fire escape.

"But I knew there would be witnesses, and that is because of you.

"If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Convention the other night, it is because the world was watching. And the world was watching because you were watching."

Ecuador has said it granted asylum because neither Britain nor Sweden would offer guarantees that they would not allow Mr Assange's extradition to the United States. Supporters of Mr Assange say they fear he has been secretly indicted by a grand jury in the US.

Mr Correa has said there is sufficient reason to fear Mr Assange, who published the largest trove of US secrets ever in 2010, would be denied due process in the United States and could face life in prison or even the death penalty.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat