The website of the Kremlin-funded news network Russia Today has been hit with a denial-of-service attack that some have linked with the station's support for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and others with the impending Pussy Riot verdict.
The English-language Russia Today (RT) tweeted on Friday morning that its hosting provider had confirmed RT.com was "under DDoS attack". An anti-Wikileaks group subsequently claimed responsibility, but there is as yet no proof of this connection. It is notable that Friday is the day when a Russian court will decide the fate of three members of the punk protest band Pussy Riot, which has been very critical of Vladimir Putin.
RT's tweet came through at 8:12am. Around 20 minutes later, Antileaks tweeted that it was responsible for the DDoS, and attached a hashtag supporting Pussy Riot. The Wikileaks account then went on to condemn the attack, suggesting that it was connected with RT's support of Assange, rather than the punk band.
Assange, who faces extradition from the UK to Sweden to face questioning over sexual assault allegations, had a chat show on RT, with one of his guests having been Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa.
Correa granted Assange diplomatic asylum on Thursday. However, that move has so far had a limited effect, since the UK does not recognise that type of asylum and Assange cannot get safe passage to an airport.
RT is a strong supporter of Assange, but it is also a supporter of the Russian leader. Many free-speech advocates are incensed at the likelihood of the Pussy Riot members facing jail time for playing an anti-Putin song in a church.