CBS/AP/ December 4, 2010, 8:05 AM

PayPal Turns Off Tap for WikiLeaks Donations

Last Updated 2:53 p.m. ET

The online payment service provider PayPal has cut off the account used by WikiLeaks to collect donations, serving another blow to the organization just as it was struggling to keep its website accessible after an American company stopped directing traffic to it.

PayPal said in a blog posting that the move was prompted by a violation of its policy, "which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity."

The short notice was dated Friday, and a spokeswoman for PayPal Germany on Saturday declined to elaborate and referred to the official blog posting.

CBSNews.com Special Report: WikiLeaks

Donating money to WikiLeaks via PayPal on Saturday was not possible anymore, generating an error message saying "this recipient is currently unable to receive money."

PayPal is one of several ways WikiLeaks collects donations, and until now was probably the most secure and convenient way to support the organization.

The other options listed on WikiLeaks' website are through mail to an Australian post office box, through bank transfers to accounts in Switzerland, Germany or Iceland as well as through one "credit card processing partner" in Switzerland.

WikiLeaks' PayPal account redirects users to a German foundation which provides the organization with the money. The Wau Holland Foundation, named after a German hacker, confirmed Saturday in a Twitter message that their PayPal account had been taken down because of the "financial support to WikiLeaks."

The foundation's president Winfried Motzkus earlier this week was quoted by his hometown Bielefeld's local newspaper Neue Westfaelische as saying that Wau Holland has so far collected ?750,000 ($1 million) for WikiLeaks, covering the organization's expenses.

WikiLeaks' recent releases seem to have been a boon for the foundation, which has previously described itself as the organization's main financial backer.

On its website, the foundation says "the huge and in this form unique amount of donations has caused the delay of issuing contribution receipts" - which allow Germans to deduct donations from their taxes.

Messages left for the foundation and for its president Motzkus were not immediately answered.

While WikiLeaks vows to make the world a more transparent place, very little is known about its day-to-day functioning. It has no headquarters, few if any paid staff and its finances remain opaque.

Wau Holland's vice president Hendrik Heye Fulda last month told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung WikiLeaks operates on a tight annual budget of about $200,000. Fulda could not be reached immediately on Saturday.

The move by PayPal, a subsidiary of U.S. based online marketplace operator EBay Inc., came as another blow to the organization that has embarrassed Washington and foreign leaders by releasing a cache of secret - and brutally frank - U.S. diplomatic cables.

WikiLeaks had become an Internet vagabond Friday, forced to move from one website to another as governments and hackers hounded the organization, trying to deprive it of a direct line to the public.

EveryDNS - a company based in Manchester, New Hampshire, stopped directing traffic to the website wikileaks.org late Thursday after it said cyber attacks threatened the rest of its network.

But while wikileaks.org remained unreachable Saturday, the organization has found new homes. Its German website wikileaks.de was reachable Saturday, and so was its Swiss domain.

The Swiss address directs traffic to servers in France, where political pressure quickly mounted with Industry Minister Eric Besson on Friday saying it was unacceptable to host a site that "violates the secret of diplomatic relations."

The web hosting company OVH confirmed that it had been hosting WikiLeaks since early Thursday, after a client asked for a "dedicated server with ... protection against attacks," adding it was now up to the courts to decide on the legality of hosting the site on French soil.

French newspaper Le Monde - which was among the publications that were granted full access to the diplomatic cables beforehand - said in one of its online articles Saturday it could not provide links to the relevant cables "as a result of the computer attacks WikiLeaks has suffered and the refusal of some Internet hosts and countries to take in the site."

Media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders on Saturday condemned the personal attacks on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and "the blocking, cyber-attacks and political pressure" in what it called the first "attempt at the international community level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency."

"We are shocked to find countries such as France and the United States suddenly bringing their policies on freedom of expression into line with those of China," the organization said in a statement.

WikiLeaks has been brought down numerous times this week by what appear to be denial-of-service attacks. In a typical such attack, remote computers commandeered by rogue programs bombard a website with so many data packets that it becomes overwhelmed and unavailable to visitors. Pinpointing the culprits is difficult. The attacks are relatively easy to mount and can be performed by amateurs.

The attacks started Sunday, just before WikiLeaks released the diplomatic cables. To deal with the flood of traffic, WikiLeaks moved to Amazon.com's Web hosting facility.

But Amazon booted WikiLeaks from the site on Wednesday after U.S. congressional staffers started asking the company about its relationship to WikiLeaks.

The U.S. is currently conducting a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks' release of the diplomatic cables.

Legal pressure also increased on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after Swedish authorities revised a warrant for his arrest in response to procedural questions from British officials.

British law enforcement authorities have refused to say if or when Assange would be arrested. His lawyers have said they believe they would be notified of any move to arrest him but had yet to be served with a warrant as of Friday afternoon.

The 39-year-old Australian is wanted on allegations of rape and other sex crimes that emerged after a trip to Sweden in August.


More on WikiLeaks:

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WikiLeaks: U.S. Behind Attacks on Qaeda in Yemen
Ron Paul Defends WikiLeaks Founder's Rights
WikiLeaks: Mexico Asked U.S. to Counter Chavez
WikiLeaks' Backup Plan
WikiLeaks: CIA Asked State Dept. for U.N. Info
Who is Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange?
WikiLeaks' Assange Being Persecuted, Lawyer Says
WikiLeaks' Assange On Wanted List
WikiLeaks: Putin Likely Knew of Spy Murder Plot
Next WikiLeak Could Turn Assange into Robin Hood
After WikiLeaks, Whistle-Blower Bill Gains Steam
Clinton: WikiLeaks Won't Hurt U.S. Diplomacy
© 2010 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
41 Comments Add a Comment
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mask2697 says:
To everyone boycotting Paypal, this is a illegal site, America has every right to destroy it, and Paypal should have closed that account sooner then it did
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mask2697 says:
Finally there is a chance of ending this site, to anyone who didn't know If We had a world with no secrets, Japan would have nuked us in WWII also, would you like it if AL quada knew everything America did, He probably will result in deaths and tensions world wide
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newsterI replies:
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It wont end, paypal is a minor player, there are hundreds of ways to get and send funds, the information has been distributed already around the globe to tens of thousands or more, the cat is out of the bag now, enough documents have been downloaded and shared that it doesn't make any difference if more of them make it out or not, those are just redundant icing on the already over iced cake.

Way to go Wikileaks, keep up the good work!!!!!!
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wyodutch says:
Yesterday, I closed my payPal accont.
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Today, I donated 25 Euros to WikiLeaks.
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If the government wants to charge me with supporting a terrorist organization... Well, as the little brained fellow from Texas said.. "Bring it on".
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newsterI replies:
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Way to go wyodutch!
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tmittelstaed says:
I find it facinating that governments and private industry are banding together to push wikileaks off the Internet, yet these same organizations do absolutely nothing to push spammers off the Internet, yet the spammers have done far, far, far greater damage than wikileaks.

We know where the spammers are, any administrator of a mailserver can provide lists of IP addresses of machines that are sending spam. I myself have helped dozens of people who have machines infected with spam viruses to clean them. Yet not once have I or any of the people I've helped been contacted by the FCC or FBI or any other government agency interested in doing a post-mortem on their infected computer to find out where the virus came from, even though these agencies have the expertise to analyze these systems and determine the source, and to determine the controlling servers the viruses are calling out to.

These governments could care less to bother going after criminals on the Internet like the spammers yet they are throwing everything they have at wikileaks. Perhaps if they pursued the spammers with the same vigor we might have no spam problem.
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newsterI replies:
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I myself have helped dozens of people who have machines infected with spam viruses to clean them. Yet not once have I or any of the people I've helped been contacted by the FCC or FBI or any other government agency interested in doing a post-mortem on their infected computer to find out where the virus came from"

We KNOW where they come from, a friend also told me that a friend of his worked for one of the anti virus software co's and told him they push the virus out the back door once they have the "fix" for it, that way it infects computers around the world, they step in to rescue and they make money that keeps them in business.

You NEVER wondered how it was they can come out with the CURE for a major virus or worm so FAST?
really?, You NEVER wondered??
It's the perfect crime and so typical of corporations, you create your own business this way, marvelous,simply brilliant, you sneak worms and virus out the back door onto the net, sit back and watch as the panic starts and the money ROLLS in as people buy your product and upgrades to fix their computers.
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wyodutch says:
And today, I turned off the tap that led from my online purchases to PayPal.
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BOYCOTT paypal!
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kingfish20815 says:
Tjings are always what they seem. Paypal, it is said. will with the slightest pretext close a customers account and confiscate the money in it. A number of the victims have never gotten access to their money nor has it been returned to the payees.
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infantryman1968 says:
by Rajah88 December 4, 2010 4:23 PM EST
Amazon rents servers to any and all. Wikileaks rented Amazon servers.
When the US Government applied pressure, Amazon turned coward and denied WikiLeaks access.


hahahahahahahahhahaahahahah

Obama is taking wikileaks down lib!
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gruven13777 says:
Nothing quite like Big Brother shutting you down.
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infantryman1968 replies:
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LOL!

Obama, Clinton and Holder are shutting them down.
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wyodutch says:
So... You think the government's privacy should be protected from WikiLeaks... do you.
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Here's how that same government treats YOUR privacy...
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Friday, December 3, 2010; 12:41 AM - Washington Post

The federal government has repeatedly violated legal limits governing the surveillance of U.S. citizens, according to previously secret internal documents obtained through a court battle by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In releasing 900 pages of documents, U.S. government agencies refused to say how many Americans' telephone, e-mail or other communications have been intercepted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - or FISA - Amendments Act of 2008, or to discuss any specific abuses, the ACLU said. Most of the documents were heavily redacted.
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infantryman1968 replies:
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LOL!

Obama, Clinton and Holder are taking wikileaks down. You voted for them didnt you?
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bobnjersey says:
[Sorry Bobby, Assange is a serious threat to my country's security and the safety of American troops and agents everywhere. He is the enemy. ]
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the current threat from 'terrorists' ... which by the way are the same group referred to as 'freedom fighters' when the cia was funding, training, and arming them in the late '70s and '80s ... is created by ... and now amplified by the foreign policy of the us government.

waging war in muslim land is the greatest threat to the security of the us way of life ... both with respect to direct threat from an increasingly radicalized musliim population and those that are sympathetic to them ... to the expenditure of untolds amounts of money we don't have to wage these wars ... and to the unprecedented erosion of freedoms and rights afforded to citizens ... ironically the same freedoms and rights we're allegedly fighting the terrorists to maintain.

your quaint references to the simple minded accountability directed toward mr. assange is devoid of any real critical evaluation of why he is where he is ... doing what he's doing.

he's only the messenger ... fed by what appears to be others within the very ranks of those you claim are threatened ... leaking these documents because they obviously see the same injustices and misrepresentations of the real story about what's going on ... who it really threatens ... and true and ultimate costs to the country they obviously love enough to risk their own liberty over.

your ignorance completely sidesteps the long term cost that we will all pay ... when the unprecedented 'blow back' ensues from this historical folly in us foreign policy.

you are the enemy ... and so too are all those w/ the myopia that we can do no wrong in the world ... and all the bad guys are those who stand against us. ignorance is the enemy ... and you are an archetype of that ignorance.
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infantryman1968 replies:
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hahhaahahhahahahaahah

Obama, Clinton and Holder are taking wikileaks down. You voted for them didnt you?
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