WikiLeaks Block May Force Its End, Founder Warns
By John F. Burns
LONDON — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said on Monday that his controversial Web site could be forced to shut down by the end of the year because a 10-month-old “financial blockade” had sharply reduced the donations on which it depends.
Calling the blockade a “dangerous, oppressive and undemocratic” attack led by the United States, Mr. Assange said at a news conference here that it had deprived his organization of “tens of millions of dollars,” and warned, “If WikiLeaks does not find a way to remove this blockade, we will not be able to continue by the turn of the new year.”
Since the end of 2010, financial intermediaries, including Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union, have refused to allow donations to WikiLeaks to flow through their systems, he said, blocking “95 percent” of the Web site’s revenue and leaving it to operate on its cash reserves for the past 10 months. An aide said that WikiLeaks was now receiving less than $10,000 a month in donations.
Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks had been forced to halt work on the processing of tens of thousands of secret documents that it has received, and to turn its attention instead to lawsuits it has filed in the United States, Australia, Scandinavian countries and elsewhere, as well as to a formal petition to the European Commission to try to restore donors’ ability to send it money through normal channels.
WikiLeaks receives and publishes confidential documents from whistle-blowers and leakers, who are eager to see the site continue with the publishing sensations that drew worldwide attention last year. WikiLeaks released and passed to news organizations huge quantities of secret United States military and diplomatic cables on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other subjects. Among the organizations the group worked with were The New York Times; Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine; and The Guardian, a British newspaper.
Mr. Assange held the news conference while on a brief break from his effective house arrest on a country estate 100 miles outside London. Limits on his movements are part of the bail conditions imposed on him last year while British courts decide whether to extradite him to Sweden. The authorities there want him to answer questions related to accusations that he sexually abused two women during a visit to Stockholm in the summer of 2010. A British appeals court ruling on the extradition, pending for months, is expected at any time.
At the news conference on Monday, Mr. Assange said that he and WikiLeaks were victims of a “conspiracy to smear and destroy” them, led by the United States Treasury, American intelligence agencies and “right-wing” forces in the United States, including powerful corporations led by Bank of America and the Visa credit card company. He said the attack had also included “high-level calls” to assassinate him and other WikiLeaks associates, but offered no specifics to support the allegation.
Read the entire article here: WikiLeaks Problems/NY Times
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