The Pirate Party slammed UK police for the arrest today of five suspects in connection with denial of service (DoS) attacks carried out by Anonymous in support of whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks.
The attacks - part of Anonymous's 'Operation Payback' - were aimed at a number of companies including Amazon, PayPal, Visa and MasterCard, all of whom had withdrawn services from WikiLeaks after the website outed more than 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables.
In a statement released today, the Pirateers voiced their concerns over the role the companies had played in attempting to silence WikiLeaks' attempt to unmask the US government's diplomatic duplicity:
"Many believe that the revelations made by WikiLeaks unveil the questionable behaviour of elected representatives and therefore that it is in the public interest for this information to be revealed," the swashbuckling file sharers stated, adding: "Actions by certain companies to block services for or donations to WikiLeaks are seen as forms of censorship that, while not directly caused by national governments are seen to be supported or encouraged by them."
"In the face of governmental and corporate attacks against WikiLeaks," the pirates continued, "individuals around the world have tried to fight back in the only way they feel available to them under the label 'Anonymous'."
Offering a muted defence of Anonymous' direct action, the Pirate Party's statement continued:
"While the Party will never condone any illegal actions, it can understand the frustration felt by many who feel powerless in the face of multinational corporations and Governments unwilling to step in.
"That normal, everyday people choose to take these sorts of actions shows the extent to which many people feel disenfranchised by mainstream politics and the Pirate Party aims to give such people a voice and a means to engage in these issues through lawful and political methods rather than resorting to 'hacktivism' and other actions that could be illegal."
Calling on the authorities to ensure that "no individuals are 'made an example of' nor blamed for the actions of many hundreds or thousands of activists", the statement put the boot in on the UK's outdated Computer Misuse Act (1990) noting that, if convicted, the Anonymous Five "could be facing up to ten years in prison for very minor actions, based on an Act that was originally passed over 20 years ago."
Issuing a stark warning to authorities over the threat of all-out cyber war, Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye said: "Many in the online community frankly feel under siege. It is time for engagement from mainstream politicians, or otherwise radicalisation can only increase."