Bringing down the WikiLeaks website won't stop embarrassing documents published on the site from being spread around the world, the site's founder said Friday.
"The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the U.S. and other countries, to over 100,000 people in encrypted form," Julian Assange said in a live chat on the website of the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. "If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically."
Assange added that copies of the information are in the hands of multiple news organizations.
"History will win," he wrote in his closing statement. "The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you."
The website, which specializes in publishing classified documents, struggled to stay online Friday as corporations and governments moved to cut its access to the internet. WikiLeaks began releasing a large batch of U.S. diplomatic messages, or cables, on Nov. 28, including many that proved embarrassing to governments around the world.France moved to ban WikiLeaks from French servers, which, along with a company in Sweden, are hosting the site's Swiss domain name.
Industry Minister Eric Besson said it's "unacceptable" for French servers to host the site, which "violates the [secrecy] of diplomatic relations and puts people protected by diplomatic secret in danger."
WikiLeaks moved to a Swiss domain name, wikileaks.ch, on Thursday after EveryDNS, the U.S. company that directed traffic to the website, stopped doing so, saying cyber attacks threatened the rest of its network.
WikiLeaks has been the target of denial-of-service attacks since Sunday. Such attacks disable websites by swamping them with data packets. The company initially responded by moving its site to Amazon.com's servers, which are rented out to host other sites during traffic surges. However, Amazon ousted WikiLeaks from its servers on Wednesday, saying the company violated terms of service, after U.S. Congressional staffers started asking about the relationship between Amazon and WikiLeaks.
Criminal probe continues
The United States has what Attorney General Eric Holder calls "an active, ongoing, criminal investigation" into WikiLeaks' release of the diplomatic cables. Holder said this week that the release jeopardized national security, diplomatic efforts and U.S. relationships around the world.
Meanwhile, Sweden is seeking Assange's extradition in an investigation of sex-crimes allegations against him. Assange is in Britain, Jennifer Robinson, one of his lawyers, confirmed Friday. She declined to elaborate.
Robinson said her client was in no way evading arrest, noting Assange left Sweden with the accord of authorities there and has repeatedly offered himself up for questioning. She also disputed media descriptions of Assange as a fugitive, saying he was in hiding out of fear for his safety, not to dodge official attention.
Assange was asked directly by a commenter on the Guardian on Friday whether he fears for his security.
"The threats against our lives are a matter of public record, however, we are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a superpower," Assange said in his reply.
Swedish officials issued a Europe-wide arrest warrant for Assange earlier in the week, only to have to refile it when British officials got in touch to say it did not meet their standards.
Swedish authorities said they have now passed on all supplementary information asked for by British police, meaning an arrest could be imminent.