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Anonymous hits U.K. government sites over Assange situation

The loosely knit hacktivist group launches denial-of-service attacks against the U.K. Justice Department, as well as a handful of other government sites.

The Anonymous log

The online hacker group Anonymous says it has targeted several U.K. government Web sites for shutdown in an apparent show of solidarity for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has taken asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid arrest by British authorities.

The loosely knit hacktivist group claims to have launched distributed denial-of-service attacks against the U.K. Justice Department, as well as the British prime minister's Number 10 Web site and the Department of Work and Pension. Anonymous has dubbed the attack campaign as #OpFreeAssange on its Twitter feeds:

The Justice Department's main page appeared to be down this evening, and the department confirmed it was "experiencing some disruptions."

"This is a public information website and no sensitive data is held on it. No other Ministry of Justice systems have been affected," the department said in a statement. "Measures put in place to keep the website running mean that some visitors may be unable to access the site intermittently."

Assange, who has been camped out in Ecuador's embassy in London for the last two months, was granted political asylum by the South American country last week. Police remain in front of the embassy, ready to arrest Assange should he leave the building.

The WikiLeaks founder is fighting extradition to Sweden to face questioning over alleged sex crimes. Ultimately, he is trying to avoid extradition to Sweden out of fear he would then be extradited to the U.S. to face questioning over classified material published on WikiLeaks.