Wikileaks turns to fundraising as US finance companies cut off donations


Wikileaks turns to fundraising as US finance companies cut off donations

Warwick Ashford

Warwick AshfordWarwick Ashford is chief reporter at Computer Weekly. He joined the CW team in June 2007 and is focused on IT security, business continuity, IT law and issues relating to regulation, compliance and governance. Before joining CW, he spent four years working in various roles including technology editor for ITWeb, an IT news publisher based in Johannesburg, South Africa. In addition to news and feature writing for ITWeb’s print publications, he was involved in liaising with sponsors of specialist news areas on the ITWeb site and developing new sponsorship opportunities. He came to IT journalism after three years as a course developer and technical writer for an IT training organisation and eight years working in radio news as a writer and presenter at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

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Wikileaks has stopped publishing whistle-blowing information to concentrate instead on raising funds in the face of bankruptcy.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says a blockade by US finance companies has cut off 95% of the organisation's revenue from donors, according to the BBC.

"If Wikileaks does not find a way to remove this blockade, given our current levels of expenditure, we will simply not be able to continue by the turn of the year," he told a news conference in London.

Assange is still in the UK awaiting the outcome of a High Court appeal against extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault charges.

He claims that since Wikileaks began publishing thousands of secret US government files and diplomatic cables online, an "arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade" has been imposed by Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union.

Only PayPal and Visa Europe have responded to Assange's allegations with statements. Both said users of their payment services were required to operate within the law of the countries involved.

Assange plans to mount a fundraising campaign to fight back against this blockade, which he says now poses an "existential threat" to Wikileaks' work. Assange says the blockade has deprived Wikileaks of tens of millions of euros in funding, according to The Financial Times.

He says the group is also taking pre-litigation action against the blockade in the UK, US, Iceland, Denmark, Belgium and Australia and has lodged an anti-trust complaint at the European Commission.

Wikileaks needs $3.5m to continue operating for the next 12 months, with dozens more leaks yet to be published, Assange said.

The Wikileaks website is expected to reopen for submissions of confidential documents on 28 November.

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