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Amazon.com stops hosting WikiLeaks on its servers

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 1, 2010; 6:27 PM

WikiLeaks has lost the love of Amazon.com.

The online bookseller, which also provides Web services, had been hosting WikiLeaks on its servers. After an inquiry Tuesday afternoon from an aide to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), it stopped.

"I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on WikiLeaks' previous publication of classified material," Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement. But, he added, "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."

Amazon attorneys declined to comment. But the Seattle-based company told Lieberman's staff that it has hosted WikiLeaks' site since the fall and that it ended the relationship "in the last 24 hours" because WikiLeaks was violating Amazon's terms of use, according to Homeland Security Committee staffers.

The company did not specify those terms, but its acceptable-use policy says that Amazon can terminate service if it receives notice that the client is using the Web-hosting service "for any illegal purpose or in a way that violates the law."

Signing up for Web hosting services on Amazon, as with other companies, is as easy as filling out an online application.

Obama administration officials have repeatedly asserted that WikiLeaks' release of the classified cables is a criminal act, and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called it a "serious violation of the law."

Justice Department officials are exploring possible charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act. That act criminalizes "unauthorized possession of information relating to the national defense" by an individual who has reason to believe it could harm the United States and who publishes it or "willfully" retains it when the government has demanded its return.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks merely moved its WikiLeaks.org and its Cablegate.wikileaks.org sites back to its previous Web host, a company in Sweden called Bahnhof, underlining how difficult it is to target Web sites in a virtual universe in which data move between servers and across national borders with a few keystrokes.

After being dumped by Amazon, WikiLeaks quickly sent out a response via its Twitter site: "If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books."

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