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Anonymous turns its back on Wikileaks after paywall dispute

What started as a donation paywall dispute has led to what looks like a break in ties between the two groups.

The donation page overlay on several of Wikileaks' document files, which has angered Anonymous.
Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

And the saga continues...Anonymous and Wikileaks got into a public tit-for-tat over Twitter yesterday about a donation overlay page that Wikileaks posted on its Global Intelligence Files. Anonymous called the donation page a paywall -- since it cannot be closed unless a donation is made or the Javascript is disabled -- and demanded it be taken down.

The page was taken down for a couple of hours in the evening and it looked like Anonymous had won the battle. But then, Wikileaks put it back up. And this time it's not only on the site's Global Intelligence Files -- it's on the Spy Files, Guantanamo Files, Iraq War Logs, and more.

"When this 'paywall' appeared last night, there was a brief and intense exchange online between Anonymous and Wikileaks. Within two hours all of the 'paywalls' were removed," Anonymous wrote in a statement today. "At that point Anonymous was willing to let this pass, for the sake of peace in the over all movement. But now tonight, as if taunting us to rage -- the 'paywalls' reappeared not just on sections of the site but for every single file. Enough!"

Anonymous and Wikileaks have a chummy past, with the hacking group often acting as Wikileaks' protector. When MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal pulled the plug on Wikileaks, Anonymous launched distributed denial of service attacks on the three companies' Web sites. And when British authorities tried to arrest Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the hacking group attacked several U.K. government Web sites. It has also attacked Swedish sites in retaliation for that government's treatment of Assange.

Now, however, Anonymous says it's done with Wikileaks.

"We have been worried about the direction Wikileaks is going for sometime now. In the past year the focus has moved away from actual leaks and the fight for freedom of information and concentrated more and more on Julian Assange and a rabid scrounging for money," the group said in its statement. "The conclusion for us is that Anonymous cannot support anymore what WikiLeaks has become...what we will do is cease from this day all support of any kind for Wikileaks or Julian Assange."

The hacking group said that it will not attack Wikileaks' site, despite its anger. But that from now on it will no longer feed information to Wikileaks and will rather publish all classified documents it comes across on its own disclosure platforms.