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Last Updated:  Saturday, 5 April, 2003, 03:11 GMT 04:11 UK
Web firm cuts al-Jazeera ties
Saddam Hussein broadcast
Al-Jazeera has broadcast speeches by Saddam Hussein
The English language website of the Arabic news network al-Jazeera has been left more vulnerable to hackers after a US web delivery firm cancelled its contract with the station.

Akamai Technologies was hired by the Arabic TV station to help it cope with increased traffic and repeated hacker attacks.

Al-Jazeera has blamed the Akamai's decision to pull out of the contract on political reasons.

The Qatar-based network has been criticised by the US and British governments for broadcasting footage of coalition prisoners of war and images of slain soldiers.

Hacker protection

The English version of al-Jazeera's website has been having problems since it went live on 25 March.

The site has been on the receiving end of several hack attacks and has been unavailable for long periods.

Hack attack
Hackers hijacked the site for a few hours
Al-Jazeera turned to Akamai to help it deal with the attacks, as well as growing number of visits.

The US company runs a network of servers that provide protection from hacking attempts.

In a statement, Akamai failed to spell out why it had chosen not to do business with al-Jazeera.

"Akamai worked briefly this week with al-Jazeera to understand the issues they are having distributing their websites," said the company, adding it had decided to drop them as a customer.

But al-Jazeera officials believe the action was politically motivated.

"It has nothing to do with technical issues," said Joanne Tucker, Managing Editor of the English-language site told the New York Times. "It's non-stop political pressure on these companies not to deal with us."

She admitted that the decision meant the site was far more vulnerable to attacks by hackers.

Al-Jazeera's controversial reputation has made its website a popular destination for surfers.

According to search engine AltaVista, al-Jazeera has been the eighth most searched for term on the site since the Iraq war began.

Other news websites, such as the BBC, CNN and Sky have also experienced a surge in traffic.

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