Police expect Anonymous backlash to Assange verdict

Summary:UK police expect hacktivist group Anonymous to launch distributed-denial-of-service attacks in protest over a UK Supreme Court decision that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden.The Metropolitan Police Central eCrime Unit (PCeU) are monitoring online chatter on Twitter and internet relay chat channels about the Supreme Court decision on Wednesday morning.

UK police expect hacktivist group Anonymous to launch distributed-denial-of-service attacks in protest over a UK Supreme Court decision that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden.

The Metropolitan Police Central eCrime Unit (PCeU) are monitoring online chatter on Twitter and internet relay chat channels about the Supreme Court decision on Wednesday morning. There was an explosion of comment online after the decision, PCeU head Charlie McMurdie told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

"I've been getting frequent updates from my intelligence units about activity ongoing," McMurdie told ZDNet UK at a Westminster eForum cybercrime event. "A lot of people may shout about things, and raise issues around things, but it's like a public demonstration — they may say 'We don't like that' then somebody else oversteps the mark and actually goes into attack mode."

The UK Supreme Court found that Julian Assange can be extradited to face questioning about sex-crime allegations. However, the court gave Assange's defence team 14 days to resubmit arguments to the court, and Assange's defence can apply to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The Anonymous hacktivist group has claimed attacks in support of Assange and Wikileaks, including distributed denial of service attacks against MasterCard in 2010.

Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden about allegations that he had coercive sex with two Swedish Wikileaks supporters.

Assange's UK supporters have said that Assange's extradition to Sweden could be politically motivated, and that this could be a stepping-stone to extradition to the US due to Assange's Wikileaks activities.

Veteran journalist John Pilger reiterated the position to ZDNet UK on Wednesday, saying that an ECHR decision made extradition to the US easier from Sweden than from the UK.

"The [ECHR] said last year that those accused of political crimes face cruel and unusual conditions in the US," said Pilger. "I'm not a lawyer, but that seems to me to be a safeguard [against political extradition from the UK]."

Topics: Security

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Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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