Wikileaks announced Monday that it has suspended publication in order to concentrate on fundraising to combat an ¨arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade.¨
Since Dec. 7, 2010, subscribers and advertisers have been blocked from paying for their subscriptions by Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union, Wikileaks said in a press release. And in February this year, U.S. media outlets revealed in detail that the Bank of America had commissioned, through Washington lawyers Hunton & Williams, a consortium of three U.S. intelligence contractors to propose a systematic U.S. $2 million a month multi-pronged attack to hack and smear WikiLeaks.
¨The blockade erects a wall between us and our supporters,¨ said Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, in a press release, ¨preventing them from affiliating with and defending the cause of their choice. It arbitrarily singles out an organization that has not committed any illegal act in any country and cuts it off from its financial lifeline in every country¨
Wikileaks announced that the blockade has cost tens of millions of pounds, 95 percent of its total revenue, in lost donations at a time of unprecedented operational costs.
¨If this financial attack stands unchallenged,¨ Assange said, ¨a dangerous, oppressive and undemocratic precedent will have been set, the implications of which go far beyond WikiLeaks and its work. Any organization that falls foul of powerful finance companies or their political allies can expect similar extrajudicial action.¨
In order to fight back against the blockade, Wikileaks has commenced pre-litigation action against the blockade in Iceland, Denmark, the UK, Brussels, the United States and Australia. They have also lodged an anti-trust complaint at the European Commission and expect a decision by mid-November as to whether the European Competition Authority will open a full investigation into the wrongdoing of VISA and MasterCard.
Assange is currently free on bail in Britain while trying to avoid being extradited to Sweden for questioning in connection with allegations of sexual misconduct. He has denied the allegations and says the extradition to Sweden is politically motivated. He has voiced fears that Sweden will turn him over to the United States to face charges in the release of the documents.