The Independent reports today that the British governement is preparing for an attack on its websites "as evidence mounts that the backlash against the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is rapidly growing into a mass movement that aims to cause widespread disruption on the internet."
The paper reports: "Extra security measures have been added to a host of government web services, in particular those used to claim benefits or provide tax information, after Sir Peter Ricketts, the national security adviser, warned permanent secretaries across all departments that "hacktivists" who last week targeted the sites of companies such as MasterCard and PayPal could switch their focus to Britain.
"Downing Street officials confirmed they are preparing for a court appearance today by Mr Assange, who remains in custody following his arrest on sex allegations at the request of the Swedish authorities, to be used by hackers as an excuse to switch their focus to key cyber infrastructure such as the website of HM Revenue and Customs.
"Members of the online collective Anonymous have already signalled their willingness to attack UK targets if Mr Assange – who denies the claims and whose lawyers will today apply for bail – is extradited to Sweden."
The Independent adds: "The anger of Mr Assange's supporters is likely to be increased by a claim from his British lawyer yesterday that a grand jury has been secretly empanelled in Virginia to consider charges against the Australian over the diplomatic telegrams."
Australian news channel 7 News has obtained a written statement from Julian Assange, given to his mother Christine on a jail visit. It says: “My convictions are unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have expressed. This circumstance shall not shake them.
"If anything this process has increased my determination that they are true and correct. We now know that Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and others are instruments of US foreign policy. It's not something we knew before.
“I am calling for the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral attacks.”
- The Guardian says today: "Even if the judge at Westminster magistrates court in London grants Assange bail, he could still be held.The Crown Prosecution Service, which will represent the Swedish authorities in the UK court, has the right to appeal against any bail decision."