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Why hasn't the government disclosed Ai Weiwei's status? And why isn't domestic media questioning the government? (AP/Andy Wong)

Site hosting Ai Weiwei petition hit with cyberattack

By Bob Dietz/Asia Program Coordinator on April 20, 2011 12:20 PM ET

Change.org is back up and running after what the site said was a cyberattack that came from within China. Here's the site's announcement that was running on its homepage earlier today:
Change.org is currently experiencing intermittent downtime due to a denial of service attack from China on our web site. It appears the attack is in response to a Change.org petition signed by nearly 100,000 people worldwide, who are standing against the detention of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Despite this attack on our members and our platform, we will continue to stand with the supporters of Ai Weiwei to defend free speech and the freedom to organize for people everywhere. In the meantime, we apologize for any inconvenience.

Change.org is a well-known site for activist groups working for social change. It offers an easy way to launch petitions in support of injustices like that of Ai's arrest. The petition calling for his release was closing in on 94,000 signatures when the attack came. 

CPJ has covered Ai's case extensively, including calling on the U.S. State Department and the European Union to pressure China's government for his release. Ai is among the most prominent of China's government critics, and commented frequently on injustice, including detentions of fellow dissidents, in blogs and on his widely followed Twitter feed. Ai's detention comes as an unusually high number of activists, bloggers, online journalists, and writers have disappeared or been detained. The tightening on dissident voices coincided with unsigned calls for anti-government protests in China, inspired by revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, that appeared online. 


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