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U.S., British Govts Keep Pressure on WikiLeaks

January 30, 2011

Washington Capitol, DC

Image by Francisco Diez via Flickr

U.S. and British government officials have begun a global crackdown against pro-WikiLeaks “hacktivists” who briefly shut down Mastercard, Visa, Paypal and December 9. The loose group of hacktivists began a global cyber-attack called “Operation Payback” against the companies that earlier had caved-in to what was likely a U.S. federal government pressure campaign and similar electronic attack against the WikiLeaks website earlier in the year.

Five British citizens were arrested on January 27 in the anti-WikiLeaks government probe, and the U.S. government issued 40 search warrants the same day in a related move. The British arrests all involved young men aged 15 to 26. ABC News reported that many of the U.S. searches were “conducted in the San Francisco Bay area and the Boston area as part of an ongoing investigation that involved 26 FBI field offices executing search warrants.”

One of the search warrants issued in the United States was served against Georgia Tech freshman Zhiwei Chen on January 27. According to the college newspaper, Technique, Chen wrote: “I was a passive admin for Operation Payback and quit early to avoid complications with the law, but it seems the FBI has gotten the better of me.”

WikiLeaks Logo


Visa, Mastercard and Paypal — the corporations targeted by hactivists in Operation Payback — had denied cardholder donations to WikiLeaks. An internal Visa investigation concluded January 27 that WikiLeaks had not broken any laws, but Visa continues to ban its customers from using their credit cards to donate to WikiLeaks.

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