WikiLeaks claims website is under cyber attack ahead of document dump

WIKILEAKS said its website was under attack from computer hackers ahead of another planned document dump that US officials say could damage diplomatic relations and put lives at risk.

“We are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack,” the whistleblowing website tweeted to its 200,000-plus followers.

“El Pais, Le Monde, Speigel, Guardian & NYT will publish many US embassy cables tonight, even if WikiLeaks goes down,” the site said in a follow-up tweet.

The site did not say or hazard a guess as to who was responsible for orchestrating the reported attack.

Governments around the world are bracing for the release of 250,000 diplomatic documents that are expected to cause embarrassment and strain relations between the US and its allies.

WikiLeaks warned earlier this month that it was set to release a larger cache of documents than it did last month, when it published an unprecedented 400,000 classified US documents.

In July, it posted 77,000 secret US files on the Afghan conflict.

The United States late on Saturday rejected talks with WikiLeaks over the planned release, saying the website was holding the documents in violation of US law.

“We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained US Government classified materials,” State Department legal advisor Harold Koh said.

“As you know, if any of the materials you intend to publish were provided by any government officials, or any intermediary without proper authorisation, they were provided in violation of US law and without regard for the grave consequences of this action. As long as WikiLeaks holds such material, the violation of the law is ongoing.

“It is our understanding from conversations with representatives from The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, that WikiLeaks also has provided approximately 250,000 documents to each of them for publication, furthering the illegal dissemination of classified documents.”

It is anticipated that the documents will be released at approximately 8.30am (AEST) this morning.

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