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Cyberattacks persist as MasterCard slogs through WikiLeaks protest

Cyberattacks sent MasterCard's website into a tailspin. The page has been up-again, down-again as hackers stage a cyberattack protest in support of WikiLeaks.

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WikiLeaks angered the U.S. government earlier this year when it posted a video showing U.S. troops on a helicopter gunning down two Reuters journalists in Iraq. Since then, the organization has leaked some 400,000 classified U.S. war files from Iraq and 76,000 from Afghanistan, which U.S. military officials say could put people's lives at risk. In the last few weeks, the group has begun leaking a massive trove of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

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U.S. officials have directed their anger at Assange, but others have begun to ask whether Washington shares the blame for the diplomatic uproar.

"The core of all this lies with the failure of the government of the United States to properly protect its own diplomatic communications," Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said Wednesday, criticizing the fact that tens of thousands of U.S. government employees had access to the cables.

Assange, meanwhile, faces a new extradition hearing in London next week where his lawyers plan to reapply for bail. The 39-year-old Australian denies two women's allegations in Sweden of rape, molestation and unlawful coercion, and is fighting his extradition to Sweden.

In a Twitter message Wednesday, WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson shrugged off the challenges.

"We will not be gagged, either by judicial action or corporate censorship ... WikiLeaks is still online," Hrafnsson said.

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Malin Rising in Stockholm, Frank Jordans in Geneva, Jamey Keaten in Paris, Cassandra Vinograd in London, Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Brian Murphy in Dubai, Tia Goldenberg in Jerusalem, Michelle Chapman, Peter Svensson and Barbara Ortutay in New York and Anne Flaherty in Washington contributed to this report.