Dutch prosecutors say they have arrested a 16-year-old boy suspected of involvement in digital attacks that made it difficult to access several prominent financial payment websites earlier this week.

In a statement, the national prosecutors' office said the youth is believed to have participated in attacks by WikiLeaks supporters on websites "including MasterCard and Paypal, among others."

The statement Thursday said the youth was arrested in The Hague, Netherlands. His name was not released. It was not clear whether he was believed to have played an important role in the attacks, which flooded the websites with traffic.


Linus Losson, chair of the Swedish micropayment company Flattr at the company's office in Malmo, Sweden. The internet startup is processing donations to WikiLeaks. ((EDrago Prvulovic/Associated Press))

Meanwhile, the Swedish micropayment firm Flattr is accepting donations on behalf of WikiLeaks after Visa, MasterCard and PayPal cancelled their agreements with the whistleblowing site.

Flattr, a relatively new startup is operated by Peter Sunde, the man behind Pirate Bay, a file-sharing website.

The organization has about 50,000 donors worldwide.

The Visa, MasterCard and PayPal sites were all operational Thursday, after being shut down by denial of service attacks by a loosely organized group called Anonymous on Wednesday.

The group, which calls its DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks Operation Payback, is again threatening to shut down the PayPal site.

However, Operation Payback was issued a setback Thursday as Twitter and Facebook deleted accounts set up by supporters of the group.

The activists are using chat rooms on different sites to organize their cyber attacks.

WikiLeaks payment processor to sue Visa, Mastercard

In yet another development WikiLeaks' payment processor said Thursday that it was preparing to sue credit card companies Visa and MasterCard over their refusal to process donations.

The companies did not return calls from CBC News on Thursday.


A supporter of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds up a placard outside the City of Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Tuesday. ((Sang Tan/Associated Press))

Andreas Fink, the CEO of Iceland's DataCell ehf, told The Associated Press that he would seek damages from the American financial companies over their decision to block WikiLeaks funds.

"It's difficult to believe that such a large company as Visa can make a political decision," Fink said in a telephone interview from Switzerland. In an earlier statement, his company had defended WikiLeaks, saying that "it is simply ridiculous to think WikiLeaks has done anything criminal."

WikiLeaks has been under intense pressure since it began publishing some 250,000 U.S. State Department cables, with attacks on its websites and threats against its founder, Julian Assange, who is now in a British jail fighting extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations.

A host of U.S. internet and financial companies have severed their links to the controversial website, some citing terms of use violations.

Earlier this week, Visa and MasterCard said they would stop processing payments to WikiLeaks, although they have not offered a detailed explanation as to why.