WikiLeaks suspends publishing to fight financial blockade

Julian Assange says banking bans have destroyed 95% of whistleblowing site's revenues

Julian Assange, co-founder of WikiLeaks, announces that the whistleblowing website is suspending publishing operations to fight 'arbitrary and unlawful' financial blockades Link to this video

Julian Assange, co-founder of WikiLeaks, has announced that the whistleblowing website is suspending publishing operations in order to focus on fighting a financial blockade and raise new funds.

Assange, speaking at a press conference in London on Monday, said a banking blockade had destroyed 95% of WikiLeaks' revenues.

He added that the blockade posed an existential threat to WikiLeaks and if it was not lifted by the new year the organisation would be "simply not able to continue".

The website, behind the publication of hundreds of thousands of controversial US embassy cables in late 2010 in partnership with newspapers including the Guardian and New York Times, revealed that it was running on cash reserves after "an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade" by the Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union.

WikiLeaks said in a statement: "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."

Assange said donations to WikiLeaks were running at €100,000 a month in 2010, but had dropped to a monthly figure of €6,000 to €7,000 this year.

This had cost the organisation a cumulative €40m to €50m, he claimed, assuming donations had stayed at their 2010 level without the financial blockade.

Assange said WikiLeaks was facing legal cases in Denmark, Iceland, the UK and Australia, as well as an existing action in the EU.

He is also fighting extradition from the UK to Sweden to answer allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Guardian, New York Times, El País, Der Spiegel and Le Monde worked with WikiLeaks in publishing carefully selected and redacted US embassy cables in December, but have since criticised the website's decision to publish its full archive of 251,000 unredacted documents in early September.

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  • TruthBomb

    24 October 2011 1:56PM

    It shows you how fragile the ability to speak out freely really is.

    From the other side it is a well managed and orchestrated amalgamation of political and corporate power - ensuring that although the governments are seen to still provide the outlets that offer free speech they can use their influence to manage the situation so that it is not as free or as open as it first appears

  • kizbot

    24 October 2011 1:57PM

    "The blockade is outside of any accountable, public process. It is without democratic oversight or transparency.


    I trust Assange as far as I could throw him.. but he's right about this point, whatever you think of wikileaks this is a dangerous precedent.

  • drabacus

    24 October 2011 1:58PM

    This had cost the organisation a cumulative €40m-50m, he claimed, assuming donations had stayed at their 2010 level without the financial blockade.

    He needs that to keep a website going? Hmmm. You could run a small university on that.

  • Manilo

    24 October 2011 1:59PM

    Assange is a fraud who only views things in fixed, blinkered and arrogant way, whatever good springs from WLs work. Alongside Pilger, the late Pinter, Redgrave, Loach, Galloway etc etc.

    All the above come up with valid points but the problem is they tend to develop followers, who swell their egos and arrogance by worshipping every word that issues forth to the point that they lie and invent.

  • FattMatt

    24 October 2011 2:01PM

    Assange said donations to WikiLeaks were running at €100,000 a month in 2010, but had dropped to a monthly figure of €6,000 to €7,000 this year.

    This had cost the organisation a cumulative €40m to €50m,

    24 months of €100,000 per month in donations is €2.4M

    where is the rest of the €40m to €50m coming from?

  • kizbot

    24 October 2011 2:03PM

    All the above come up with valid points but the problem is they tend to develop followers, who swell their egos and arrogance by worshipping every word that issues forth to the point that they lie and invent.


    None of that would justify the bank blockade for a site that isn't illegal and that has never been charged with doing anything illegal. If I want to donate my money to a cause, why shouldn't I be able to do it? How can the banks decide who can and cannot receive my money?

  • FhnuZoag

    24 October 2011 2:03PM

    It's a bit rich of Assange to assume donations would remain at their height, and have not been affected at all by whole array of issues that have hit, including the rape accusation, the redirection of funds into JA's personal defense, the accusation of mismanagement, the NDA thing, the revelations about relations with holocaust deniers, the leaking of unredacted documents, and basically having no new major leak for a year.

  • indiekid75

    24 October 2011 2:04PM

    How does a reduction of €93-94k a month add since 2010 (either 11 or 23 months depending on how that's interpreted) add up to €40m to €50m?

  • Adhamhnan

    24 October 2011 2:06PM

    It does seem that the bullies rule..........................pity.

    But isn't that the reason why we need organizations like WikiLeaks in the first place?

  • Dravazed

    24 October 2011 2:09PM

    This is simply an obvious example of what is comprehensively the case: capitalism is a system wherein every aspect of human life is simultaneously commercialized and politicized. The two are inseparable, with the crucial factor being that those who rule--impolitely but meaningfully referred to as "the ruling class"--are conscious of this, and accordingly act in their own interests.

    When the mass of common humanity begins to act with correspondingly conscious self-interest as a class, there will be real and lasting change on this planet--but not before that.

  • Gelion

    24 October 2011 2:09PM

    ""an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade" by the Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union."

    Can't he sue those companies in the US, if what they did was illegal?

  • MacRandall

    24 October 2011 2:11PM

    As several have already pointed out, the man claims 2 + 2 = 5, FFS.

    I believe that in and of itself qualifies his followers as "mindless sycophants."

  • livingyears

    24 October 2011 2:17PM

    why don't "they" (banks/payment orgs) block payments for child porn or other examples ??

    seems politically motivated, probaly illegal, but as one poster said, they "control" the money and we can just sit back and watch....

  • LucreziaM

    24 October 2011 2:18PM

    Where are his millionaire friends to help him with a little cash advance?
    Maybe he could have added a Paypal donate button to his site.

  • MrShigemitsu

    24 October 2011 2:18PM

    Gelion:

    Can't he sue those companies in the US, if what they did was illegal?

    With what money?

    I mean, it's not like it's going to cost much to sue Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union......is it?

  • BusinessAsPerUsual

    24 October 2011 2:20PM

    What is worth noting is that the big global payment systems that are Mastercard, Visa, Paypal are associating WikiLeaks with the hackers they came under fire from. As far as I understand those attacks didn't come from WikiLeaks.
    Corporate whistleblowers would loose an important platform if Wikileaks went under.
    Those companies effectively have a monopoly and that's the real problem.

  • Kitten69

    24 October 2011 2:22PM

    Kick him while he's down?

    Or is he just upset that Wikileaks can't keep him in the manner which he's become accustomed?

    Whatever the reason, if WL goes then one more beacon on the murky world of double-dealing scumbags will go out.

  • tallbloke

    24 October 2011 2:22PM

    Assange, speaking at a press conference in London on Monday, said a banking blockade had destroyed 95% of WikiLeaks' revenues.

    Whereas donors to Wikileaks would say Julian Assange's bizarre behaviour had destroyed 95% of Wikileaks credibility. He has made the American government's effort to discredit and eventually close Wikileaks much easier. And yes, I did give them money when they appealed for it, more fool me.

  • whizgiggle

    24 October 2011 2:23PM

    It's been documented that HBGary had designed plans on behalf of Bank of America for concerted smear campaigns against Assange and Wikileaks as well as to intimidate journalists and donors. Just putting that out there to put some of the trolling and misinformation into context

  • iona1933

    24 October 2011 2:24PM

    Homer Bates Chase was a ww2 hero who as a member of the 507th Airborne Infantry, fought in the Bulge , and made the jump into Essen Germany. Discharged as a Staff Sergeant. I always wondered why he never received a medal. He had previously fought in Spain with the Lincoln Brigade. WikiLeaks published a memo from J. Edgar Hoover to FDR telling him to never recognize any acts of bravery from previous members of the Lincoln Brigade that fought in WW2.

    THANKS WIKILEAKS

  • Benulek

    24 October 2011 2:26PM

    You mean to say Jemima Khan's cheque has bounced?

    She did send a cheque, right? I'd hate to think she was just using you for the publicity, Julian.

  • stevetyphoon

    24 October 2011 2:27PM

    The maths doesn't seem to add up as pointed out above. The important issue though is how the financial institutions acted in barring payments to an organisation which has shown how our elected representatives have acted on our behalf.
    It seems totally wrong that known despots, gangsters and corrupt officials dont have the same actions taken against them.

  • Benulek

    24 October 2011 2:29PM

    Exodus20
    24 October 2011 2:15PM
    What if wikileaks had leaked Russian embassy cables?

    Wikileaks doesn't leak anything. It is a selective conduit for materials which other people have been courageous enough to leak.

  • chatchartreux

    24 October 2011 2:30PM

    It pains me to say this, as I well remember going up and beyond to defend Wikileaks in each and every discussion I had about them a year ago, but this is embarrassing.

    Assange is throwing smoke bombs that they're suspending publishing by choice, because the reality is they don't actually have anything to publish anymore. All the big fish, Bank of America etc, were on that hard-drive Domscheit-Berg left with and refused to hand back the entire last year. The submission system has been down for the same amount of time. While the financial blockade is wrong and unlawful and, as someone said above, a very dangerous precedent, Wikileaks would not actually need this giant amount of funds at its current operating level if it wasn't for the fact that it's pouring most of the money into Assange's ongoing case.

    I realise that Wikileaks basically is Assange, and Assange is pacing and growling behind bars and trying to keep up the fronts of a very powerful man who still has control over what is going on around him, but the reality is that he hasn't and it shows and is in danger of ruining everything they had achieved. The website is practically worthless beyond its archives. Wikileaks' Facebook and Twitter updates have become nothing more than vile bits of mud-throwing and conspiracy theories.

    They had so much potential, and now they're quickly becoming irrelevant and a laughing-stock, and Assange's spiteful bravado is accomplishing exactly the opposite of what it's meant to when it is so easy to see right through it.

  • Sybantcho

    24 October 2011 2:34PM

    Manilo is a fraud who only views things in fixed, blinkered and arrogant way, whatever good springs from right wing nut jobs work. Alongside other right wing nut jobs.

    All the above come up with valid points but the problem is they tend to develop followers, who swell their egos and arrogance by worshipping every word that issues forth to the point that they lie and invent.


    Thanks Manilo..now back to the paywall with you

  • Gelion

    24 October 2011 2:37PM

    @MrShigemitsu

    'Gelion:

    Can't he sue those companies in the US, if what they did was illegal?

    With what money?

    I mean, it's not like it's going to cost much to sue Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union......is it?"

    I think he would find a lot of free speech supporters in the US who would help with costs - unless he has alienated them ...

  • Benulek

    24 October 2011 2:38PM

    hoytvanderbilt
    24 October 2011 2:29PM
    It's worth pointing out that we can use Visa and Mastercard to donate to the Ku Klux Klan.

    If you'd put this up on the Daily Mail's website, you'd be looking at about 1000 green arrows already.

  • Sybantcho

    24 October 2011 2:38PM

    Capitalism, or at least post 1989 Capitalism has become Sovietism..it was inevitable..

    when you remove a viable enemy...there is no other option but to eventually become the enemy

    look at the pledge of allegiance photoshoot of the GOP debate candidates...it looks like the depths of the Cold War...from the Soviet side

    Soviet State Capitalism - USA style...

    Visa etc are an extension of the SSC Banking arm...and enforcer

  • kizbot

    24 October 2011 2:39PM

    chatchartreux I agree with just about every word of your post.. But I really think this issue with the banks it about sth bigger than Assange.. It's the wider implications that worry me.

  • BigB73

    24 October 2011 2:40PM

    Financial institutions are not obliged to deal with anyone let alone someone who is wanted in the country they originate and who has a european arest warrent out for him.

    I am quite sure he breached their rules when he used stolen documents to raise revenue for himself.......

    He is also a prick.

  • Clevo

    24 October 2011 2:40PM

    In the Middle Ages (which lasted until very recently) the Roman Catholic Church had a list of books that were prohibited for the ordinary Catholic. This system of controlling people's knowledge was copied ever afterwards by dictators and authoritarian states. The modern free world is ideologically opposed to this power, and calls it censorship. By the philosophy of economic individualism, all people should be free to read anything that is not seditious, defamatory or corrupting of minors.
    Wikileaks, however, has tested this philosophy of freedom to the limit, just as the free, popular election of Hamas in Gaza pushed the philosophy of universal free elections to the limit. What do these limits have in common?
    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. Almost all great men are bad." Let us be grateful to the historian Lord Acton for the conciseness of his words.

  • Cortex

    24 October 2011 2:41PM

    Whatever you think of Wikileaks, the big story is just how dependent on corporations we really are, corporation who have no accountability to any of us. They're the problem, not Wikileaks.

  • hyperlink

    24 October 2011 2:41PM

    surely it would be pretty easy to set up a bit torrent type operation with a much smaller footprint and almost impossible for any gov to stop - far more democratic too

  • francoisP

    24 October 2011 2:42PM

    Why is it they never published any secrets from Russia or China?
    Communists-maybe?

    Oh dear I thought all that "reds under the beds" nonsense had disappeared years ago

  • Finite187

    24 October 2011 2:44PM

    I think using Wikileaks donations to fund his own legal campaign might have been a tipping point for some.

    I agree that WL deserves to keep going, it's an important site. But Assange is partially responsible for it's current predicament.

  • gracepanda

    24 October 2011 2:44PM

    I pay around £70 a year for my website and aren't all the people working at Wikileaks doing it voluntarily..................

    am I missing something here?

    Other than Assange's legal costs why do they need so much cash?????

  • blossiekins

    24 October 2011 2:45PM

    I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that banks don't have to do business with anyone, so I can't quite see how their "blockade" is "illegal". Looks to me like a business deciding it doesn't want to do any further business with a massive pain in the arse.

  • Floost

    24 October 2011 2:46PM

    Its not surprising when a site dedicated on circumventing the "system" makes itself dependent on that system to survive.

    You're either irrelevant, or you're a risk.

  • philprism

    24 October 2011 2:54PM

    If a stream comes upon a rock in its downhill flow, it merely goes around it.

    If this rock is too large for the water to go around, the water will be patient, collecting until it rises to a level which allows it to flow over or around this obstruction.

    Similarly, as we "go with the flow" in the execution of our techniques, when we are pushed, we pull; when we are pulled, we push.

    In comparing an opponents defenses to an obstacle, a rock for instance, it should be noted that although the water can simply flow over or around the obstruction, it also eventually permeates every pore and completely engulfs the obstacle.

    This type of counter-attacking 'mind-set' is practiced in Hapkido through the very nature of the techniques and combinations which we train with every day.

  • conanthebarbarian

    24 October 2011 3:01PM

    I think we can all sleep a bit easier at night knowing that 40 or 50 million Euros has not gone into Assange's pockets to pay for his increasingly self-aggrandising activities.

    Of course, this doesn't excuse big finance though. They effectively have a strangehold on our ability to get money and we have little say about it if they restrict it.

    Your ability to order that nice little item online is at a price.

  • StuartBooth

    24 October 2011 3:06PM

    You have to admit, the establishment has rounded very successfully against Assange/WikiLeaks. They are close to the point of complete success.

    Assange stands alone against the biggest and best time-tested weapons of personal destruction.

    WikiLeaks and all that they stand for will soon be ground into dust, and anyone thinking of following in their footsteps will have seen the consequences of such impudence.

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