PayPal officials first contacted FBI agents and "reported that an Internet activist group using the names '4chan' and "Anonymous" appeared to be organizing a distributed denial of service ("DDoS") attack against the company," an FBI affidavit excerpted by the Smoking Gun said.
The website reported:
On December 9, PayPal investigators provided FBI agents with eight IP addresses that were hosting an "Anonymous" Internet Relay Chat (IRC) site that was being used to organize denial of service attacks. The unidentified administrators of this IRC "then acted as the command and control" of a botnet army of computers that was used to attack target web sites.
Federal investigators noted that "multiple, severe DDos attacks" had been launched against PayPal, and that the company's blog had been knocked offline for several hours. These coordinated attacks, investigators allege, amount to felony violations of a federal law covering the "unauthorized and knowing transmission of code or commands resulting in intentional damage to a protected computer system."
Attorney General Eric Holder disputed the notion that indicting Assange would open the door to prosecuting traditional news organizations in an interview with Charlie Savage of the New York Times.
"Do you think that what you do is consistent with what you understand Assange and WikiLeaks did?" Holder asked Savage. "Would I have liked not to see the stuff appear? Yes. But did the Times act in a responsible way? I would say yes. I am not certain I would say that about those people who were responsible for the initial leaks and the wholesale dumping of materials."