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MasterCard’s website hammered

PURCHASE — The website for MasterCard suffered severe technical problems early Wednesday, possibly becoming the latest target of hackers supporting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Supporters of the organization that has released thousands of classified government documents said they would attack companies and groups hostile to its founder.

A British judge sent Assange to jail on Tuesday, denying bail after he vowed to fight efforts to be extradited to Sweden in a sex-crimes investigation.

MasterCard spokesman James Issokson said in an interview Wednesday that the company can’t confirm whether WikiLeaks is involved.

Yet the problems occurred on the same day of attacks on websites for Swedish prosecutors, the Swedish lawyer whose clients have accused Assange of sexual crimes and the Swiss authority that froze Assange’s bank account.

Mastercard Inc. pulled the plug on its relationship with WikiLeaks on Tuesday.

The actions of MasterCard and other companies including Swiss Postfinance and PayPal inc. have hurt WikiLeaks ability to raise money.

MasterCard was trying to restore service Wednesday, but Issokson could not say how long it would take.

The website’s technical problems have no impact on the ability of consumers to use credit cards for secure transactions, Issokson said.