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Updated: December 4, 2010 06:27 IST

France wants to shut WikiLeaks site

Josh HallidayAngelique Chrisafis
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French Minister Eric Besson gestures as he presents to the parliament members his bill at the National Assembly, in Paris. File photo
AP French Minister Eric Besson gestures as he presents to the parliament members his bill at the National Assembly, in Paris. File photo

U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks are hosted by French firm The French government yesterday (3DEC) added to international calls for WikiLeaks to be prevented operating online, warning that it is “unacceptable” for a “criminal” site to be hosted in the country.

The move is particularly significant because the 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks to the Guardian and four other media organisations are hosted by a French company, Octopuce.

The industry minister, Eric Besson, has written to the French body governing internet use warning that there would be consequences for any companies or organisations helping to keep WikiLeaks online in the country.

French companies are banned from hosting websites that have been deemed “criminal” and “violate the confidentiality of diplomatic relations”, Mr. Besson added.

WikiLeaks has been part-hosted by OVH, a small web hosting company based in northern France, since Thursday, when it was dropped by Amazon following pressure from Joe Lieberman, chairman of the U.S. Senate’s committee on homeland security and one of its fiercest critics.

The site’s cache of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables are also hosted in part by Octopuce, though they are also widely available on peer-to-peer filesharing sites which do not sit under the jurisdiction of one state.

Mr. Besson said: “France cannot host internet sites that violate the confidentiality of diplomatic relations and put in danger people who are protected by diplomatic secrecy. I ask you to indicate to me as soon as possible what action can be taken to ensure that this internet site is no longer hosted in France.” OVH quickly hit back at the French government, saying “it’s not up to politicians or OVH to decide the site’s closure”. The company said it will consult a judge on whether it is legal to host the whistleblowing site in France.

WikiLeaks was largely offline yesterday for the third time in a week after being dropped by its U.S.-hosting provider, Everydns. The California-based provider says it pulled the plug on WikiLeaks following a series of online attacks which threatened to destabilise the service it offers to 500,000 other companies.

The site is currently only available at the Swiss domain, WikiLeaks.ch, and a number of IP strings.

Julian Assange. WiliLeaks founder, yesterday said the development is an example of the “privatisation of state censorship” in the U.S. and is a “serious problem”.

“These attacks will not stop our mission, but should be setting off alarm bells about the rule of law in the United States,” he warned.

In a question-and-answer session on the Guardian’s website, Mr. Assange yesterday said WikiLeaks has been “deliberately placing” some of its servers in countries he suspects have a “free speech deficit”. “Amazon was one of these cases,” he added.

Copyright: Guardian News & Media 2010

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