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Akamai Declines To Help Al-Jazeera

The vendor refused to assist the Web site of the Arab satellite news channel, which has been dealing with problems with hackers
The Web site of Arab satellite news channel Al-Jazeera was refused assistance this week when it sought help from Akamai Technologies Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., in dealing with hacking attacks and massive interest from Web users.

"We think it's political pressure," said Nabil Hegazi, deputy managing editor of Al-Jazeera's English-language Web site.

Akamai rents out a network of 12,600 servers that help customer Web sites deal with unexpected traffic, hacker attacks, and Internet bottlenecks.

In a prepared statement, Akamai said it "worked briefly this week with Al Jazeera to understand the issues they are having distributing their Web sites," but decided not to continue the relationship.

Akamai would not comment Friday on why it broke off the collaboration.

Al-Jazeera drew intense interest and criticism after it carried Iraqi TV footage of dead and captive U.S. soldiers. U.S. television networks had decided not to air footage of the corpses. Al-Jazeera later honored a U.S. request to stop until families could be notified.

Its English-language Web site was brought down by Internet attacks soon after it debuted last week, and the Arabic page was unavailable for long periods as well. Hackers calling themselves the "Freedom Cyber Force Militia" later diverted visitors seeking the English site to a page with a U.S. flag.

Al-Jazeera said this week that steps were being taken to protect its servers against hackers. The English-language page was back online by Thursday evening U.S. time.

Web portal Lycos reported that Al-Jazeera's site was the most sought-after on the Internet last week.

Al-Jazeera is based in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar. It has received funding by Qatar's government but is an unusually independent voice in the Arab world.

Its reporters were banned from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange last week, but the exchange has indicated that it might be willing to reconsider its decision.