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Justice minister caught in WikiLeaks 'net wars'

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Justice minister caught in WikiLeaks 'net wars'
10:49 CET+01:00
The name of Sweden's justice minister Beatrice Ask has been hijacked on the internet, with a website featuring her name in the address now linking to WikiLeaks.

Web users who visit the site "beatricask.se" will instead find themselves visiting the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

The minister's spokesperson, Martin Valfridsson, told AFP that Ask had not previously used that domain name.

Hackers also forced the Swedish government's website offline for several hours on Thursday as cyber attacks in support of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange gathered pace.

The Aftonbladet daily said the government's official website, www.regeringen.se, was offline for a few hours overnight to Thursday, publishing a screen shot which showed the server could not be reached.

The site was working normally again later in the day.

It remains unclear who is behind the Beatrice Ask website and the attack on the government website, both of which come online the day after hackers attacked websites for the Swedish Prosecution Authority (Åklagarmyndigheten) and the law offices of Claes Borgström, the attorney representing the two women who allege they were sexually molested by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange back in August.

A group of internet activists operating under the name "Operation Payback" has claimed credit for the attacks on the Borgström and the Prosecution Authority.

The two attacks were part of a wider effort, "Operation Avenge Assange," directed at organisations deemed by the group to be opposed to WikiLeaks.

Credit card companies Visa and MasterCard as well as online payment service PayPal were also targeted by the group for the companies' decisions to stop processing payments to WikiLeaks.

"It's the wild west out on the internet right now," IT expert Joakim von Braun told the newspaper.

Government spokeswoman Mari Ternbo told AFP the government did not comment security matters and could not confirm the cyber attack had taken place.

Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, is being detained in London pending a hearing on extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over rape allegations.

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