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WikiLeaks dubs Amazon 'The Cowardly Liar'

Assange claims 'free speech deficit' scalp

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WikiLeaks has dubbed Amazon both cowardly and a liar, after the American net giant booted the whistle-blowing website from its hosting service and then said its decision had nothing to do with complaints from the US government.

"Amazon's press release does not accord with the facts on public record. It is one thing to be cowardly. Another to lie about it," WikiLeaks said in post to its Twitter account on Friday.

As of Monday, WikiLeaks was hosting its trove of classified US state department cables on the US-based portion of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud service, and on Wednesday, US Senator Joe Lieberman, the chair of the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced that after an inquiry from his staff, Amazon said it had removed WikiLeaks from the service.

“The company’s decision to cut off WikiLeaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material. I call on any other company or organization that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them," Lieberman said in a statement

"WikiLeaks’ illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world. No responsible company — whether American or foreign — should assist WikiLeaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials. I will be asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with WikiLeaks and what it and other web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information."

Netcraft records confirmed that WikiLeaks was no longer hosted on AWS, and WikiLeaks soon tweeted that its mirrors were removed against its wishes. "WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted," it said. "Free speech the land of the free — fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe." According to internet records, the site fell back on servers in Sweden.

Amazon did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Register. But more than a day later, the company published a blog post claiming it had not removed WikiLeaks in response to government inquiries. "There have been reports that a government inquiry prompted us not to serve WikiLeaks any longer," the post said. "That is inaccurate."

The company also said it had not removed the mirrors due to DDoS attacks. It said that WikiLeaks was booted because the site wasn't following its terms of service. "AWS does not pre-screen its customers, but it does have terms of service that must be followed. WikiLeaks was not following them. [For instance], it’s clear that WikiLeaks doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content," the company said.

"Further, it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren’t putting innocent people in jeopardy. Human rights organizations have in fact written to WikiLeaks asking them to exercise caution and not release the names or identities of human rights defenders who might be persecuted by their governments."

The company added that it has no problems hosting "controversial" data, but that the WikiLeaks situation is a separate case. "When companies or people go about securing and storing large quantities of data that isn’t rightfully theirs, and publishing this data without ensuring it won’t injure others, it’s a violation of our terms of service, and folks need to go operate elsewhere."

But the timing of the decision is telling.

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