WikiLeaks' French web host asks judge to rule on legality
French web provider OVH said Friday it would ask a judge to rule on whether it can continue to host WikiLeaks after the government called for the whistleblower website to be kicked out of France.
The legal challenge came after French Industry Minister Eric Besson called for WikiLeaks to be banned from French servers after the site took refuge there on Thursday, having been expelled from the United States.
"We have decided to ask a judge to rule on the legality or not of this site being on French territory," OVH's managing director Octave Klaba said in a statement.
"It's neither for the political world nor for OVH to call for or to decide on a site's closure, but for the justice system," Klaba said. "That's how it should work under the rule of law."
Klaba said that OVH had only discovered it was hosting WikiLeaks after reading press reports.
WikiLeaks ordered a dedicated server with protection from cyber attacks through OVH's website using a credit card to pay the "less than 150-euro" (200-dollar) bill, Klaba said.
"OVH is neither for nor against this site... We neither asked to host this site nor not to host it. Now that it's with us, we will fulfil the contract. That's our job."
Besson earlier asked the CGIET, the highest body governing the Internet in France, to find a way to expel the site from French servers, describing the situation as "unacceptable."
On Thursday, WikiLeaks moved to OVH after American giant Amazon booted it off its servers following pressure from US politicians angered by the release of a quarter million secret diplomatic cables.
"France cannot host Internet sites that violate the confidentiality of diplomatic relations and put in danger people protected by diplomatic secrecy," Besson wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by AFP.
"Tell me as quickly as possible what action can be taken to stop this site being hosted in France, and firstly tell all operators that have helped host it of the consequences of their actions and then hold them responsible."
The revelations have angered world governments to such an extent that the website is being forced to hopscotch around the world's servers, while also coming under massive cyber attacks aimed at bringing the site down.
© 2010 AFP