Financial blockade forces WikiLeaks to suspend publication

24 Oct 2011

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange

WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief Julian Assange has blamed a financial blockade by big corporations for the site deciding to temporarily cease publication of classified files.

The whistle-blower website has been stymied due to a lack of funds. At a press conference in London today, Assange said a blockade by financial companies like PayPal, Visa and PostFinance has caused it to grind to a halt.

On WikiLeaks’ homepage the following note was published: “We are forced to temporarily suspend publishing whilst we secure our economic survival. For almost a year we have been fighting an unlawful financial blockade.

“We cannot allow giant US finance companies to decide how the whole world votes with its pocket. Our battles are costly. We need your support to fight back. Please donate now,” the site said, indicating it needs US$300,000 to continue its existence.

According to reports, WikiLeaks estimates it lost up to US$50m in donations because of the actions of the financial services giants.

Aggressive retaliation

WikiLeaks achieved notoriety when it began publishing a torrent of diplomatic cables about the progress of the war in Afghanistan and subsequently documents revealing the goings on in financial institutions that led to the global economic meltdown.

At the height of this, Assange was accused of rape in Sweden and has been fighting an extradition battle from the UK ever since.

In a press statement last night, WikiLeaks said: “WikiLeaks has published the biggest leaks in journalistic history. This has triggered aggressive retaliation from powerful groups. Since 7th December 2010 an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade has been imposed by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union.

“The attack has destroyed 95pc of our revenue. The blockade came into force within 10 days of the launch of Cablegate as part of a concerted US-based, political attack that included vitriol by senior right-wing politicians, including assassination calls against WikiLeaks staff. The blockade is outside of any accountable, public process. It is without democratic oversight or transparency.

“The US government itself found that there were no lawful grounds to add WikiLeaks to a US financial blockade. But the blockade of WikiLeaks by politicised US finance companies continues regardless,” WikiLeaks said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years