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Tue Apr 17, 2012, 12:12 PM

500 Days of the WikiLeaks Banking Blockade [View all]


Press Release - 500 Days of the WikiLeaks Banking Blockade

Tuesday 17th February 2012 13:30 BST

500 days ago today, WikiLeaks was abruptly cut off from 95% of its funds. 500 days have passed since a cartel of the world’s largest financial players Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union instituted a consolidated, extra-judicial financial blockade against WikiLeaks. The financial blockade was imposed at a point at which the public wished to express its support unequivocally through millions of dollars in small donations. The blockade cuts WikiLeaks off from its small donors, the vast majority of our donor base. The financial cartel has so far acted with impunity in an attempt to censor WikiLeaks and curtail our supporters economic rights. The 500th day of the banking blockade coincides with the premiere broadcast of The World Tomorrow with Julian Assange, a groundbreaking new interview programme.

The financial blockade against WikiLeaks is one of a number of strategies to take WikiLeaks down. Recently, individuals who are in no way connected to WikiLeaks other than through their intention to support our project have, on their own initiative, commenced litigation in order to fight for their right to use their money as they choose.

In Sweden, Law Professor Dennis Töllborg filed a complaint at the Swedish competition authority and a separate complaint against Sweden at the European Commission.

In Colombia another Law Professor, Gabriel Gomez Albarello, is fighting for his right to donate to WikiLeaks via the Colombian bank Banco Caja Social, using the financial authorities’ complaints mechanisms and now through the courts.

In Australia, Green Party Senator Scott Ludlam has been demanding redress to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as a customer of MasterCard. He recently called upon the Australian government to act: “It’s time our Government pushed back on companies including Visa, Mastercard and Paypal, and demanded to know why they are continuing the crippling financial blockade of WikiLeaks. If it turns out the blockade is legal under Australian trade practices law, then that’s a problem the Australian Parliament should fix. In the meantime, it’s up to each of us to beat the blockade in our own way.”

Three months ago, DataCell, WikiLeaks’ partner in Iceland, filed a lawsuit in Reykjavik District Court against VALITOR (formerly VISA Iceland) demanding that the company reopen the processing of credit card payments to DataCell, including donations intended for WikiLeaks. They state that the closure was a clear breach of Icelandic merchant laws. The Court notified the parties and the case is underway. A similar procedure will be pursued in Denmark.

Rights organisations have alse reacted strongly in support of WikiLeaks: the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has openly criticized the financial blockade against WikiLeaks, as have the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. Meanwhile, a growing number of alternative ways to beat the blockade have emerged through financial intermediaries who stand by donors’ rights to support the organisation of their choice. The anti-trust division of the European Commission (DG-IV) has yet to announce whether it will commence a formal investigation against VISA Europe, MasterCard, and Diner’s Club based on the complaint WikiLeaks lodged on the 9th of July 2011 together with DataCell. The European Commission has been deliberating for over nine months now, an unusually long period given that pre-investigations routinely take between three and four months. WikiLeaks has done nothing illegal. The US Treasury has publicly ackowledged that the US has no grounds to blacklist WikiLeaks. As it stands today, VISA, MasterCard, and any other banks and financial giants can agree to arbitrarily strangle NGOs or publishers by cutting off their financial lifeline. The precedent effectively puts the present and future of freedom of speech, journalism and activism in peril. These institutions are acting outside of any accountable judicial or administrative process. For the EU, this case is a matter of sovereignty. These companies hold a virtual monopoly of the European credit card market, and they are enacting the stated will of extreme figures within the Washington establishment.

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Reply 500 Days of the WikiLeaks Banking Blockade [View all]
Hissyspit Apr 2012 OP
Luminous Animal Apr 2012 #1
dixiegrrrrl Apr 2012 #4
Oilwellian Apr 2012 #2
KoKo Apr 2012 #3
Luminous Animal Apr 2012 #5
Oilwellian Apr 2012 #6