Visa Europe cuts WikiLeaks payments

Visa Europe cuts off payment service to WikiLeaks, the latest company to cut ties with the whistleblowing website.

    WikiLeaks moved its web address to the Swiss domain http://wikileaks.ch on Friday [Reuters]

    Visa Europe has begun suspending payments to WikiLeaks, the latest company to cut of ties with the whistleblowing website, which has come under increasing pressure from around the world.

    "Visa Europe has taken action to suspend Visa payment acceptance on WikiLeaks' website pending further investigation into the nature of its business and whether it contravenes Visa operating rules," it said in a statement on Tuesday.

    The move comes a day after Mastercard, Visa's rival, cut off payments to the site, following in the steps of PayPal and Amazon which have also disassociated themselves from the organisation.

    In a blog posting on Friday, PayPal said 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."

    A US-based server provider, EveryDNS, also severed ties to the site earlier in the week, forcing it to go offline before finding new servers and changing its main website address.

    Call for support

    Despite the latest setbacks to the organisation, which relies on donations to fund its operations, WikiLeaks sent out a message on social networking site Twitter on Tuesday, asking for support and donations.

    WikiLeaks sparked controversy late last month by releasing hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables, which has outraged governments around the world.

    Julian Assange, the website's 39-year-old founder, is currently being detained in London after being refused bail at a court hearing in London.

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

    Media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders have condemned "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."

    But 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.

    German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported last month that WikiLeaks operates on a tight annual budget of about $200,000.

    The organisation lists several other payment options including mail to an Australian post office box; bank transfers to accounts in Switzerland, Germany or Iceland; and through a "credit card processing partner" in Switzerland.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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