|WikiLeaks has come under attack since releasing thousands of US diplomatic cables [AFP]
WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing website, has been forced to change its online address after it was taken offline by a US company hosting its domain name, following repeated cyber attacks.
The group's original wikileaks.org domain was taken offline at early on Friday morning by system provider EveryDNS.net, which said WikiLeaks had breached its terms of service.
"Wikileaks.org has become the target of multiple distributed denial of service attacks," EveryDNS.net said on its website.
"These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure, which enables access to almost 500,000 other websites."
Hours later, WikiLeaks said it had moved to Switzerland, using the new address http://wikileaks.ch, a site name owned by a Swiss academic network known as the Swiss Pirates' Party that campaigns for data privacy and internet freedoms.
The Swiss domain name is also registered EveryDNS.net, however, leading to fears that WikiLeaks not might be safe there for long.
"As the Swiss domain is also listed with this provider, there is a risk of further blockages. Discussions are ongoing internally about if and where the data should be moved," the Swiss group said in a statement.
Denis Simonet, who heads the group, told the AFP news agency it had registered the domain name wikileaks.ch six months ago.
"We did it to support WikiLeaks," he said, adding that it was not done at the request of Assange.
Assange said last month that he was considering requesting asylum in Switzerland, among other places.
"That is a real possibility," Assange said when asked by Swiss national television TSR whether he and the website might relocate.
Switzerland, and perhaps Iceland, were the only Western countries that his outfit feels safe in, he said at the time.
Pressure to silence website
The group has faced repeated cyber attacks since it began releasing more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables on Sunday, a move that has angered a number of nations.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has described the leak as "an attack on the world" and expressed her regret to Cristina Kirchner, the Argentine president, and Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's leader, over their content.
Pressure to silence the website has mounted, with Amazon booting WikiLeaks from its computer servers on Wednesday following lobbying from US politicians. In response, the site moved to a French server.
"Free speech the land of the free - fine our dollars are now spent to employ people in Europe," WikiLeaks said.
"If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the First Amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books."
The French government, meanwhile, is examining how it could ban WikiLeaks from being hosted on servers in France, according to a letter written by Eric Bresson, industry minister, the Reuters news agency reported.
"I ask you to indicate to me as soon as possible what action can be taken to ensure that this internet site is no longer hosted in France," Besson wrote. "This situation is not acceptable. France cannot host an internet site that violates the secrecy of diplomatic relations and endangers people."
Speculation over the whereabouts of Julian Assange, the site's founder, has escalated since Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for him over alleged sex crimes.
On Thursday Mark Stephens, Assange's lawyer, said UK police knew of his whereabouts but had not arrested him because the arrest warrant was not valid.
"There is no arrest warrant against him. There was an Interpol red notice, which is not a warrant, alerting authorities to monitor his movements," Stephens told the Reuters news agency.
"The arrest warrant was sent back by Scotland Yard [London police headquarters] because it did not comply with the law and was defective."
But Swedish police confirmed on Friday that they had issued a new warrant and it had been sent to UK police.