|Bank of America is the latest financial institution to deny WikiLeaks the use of its services [EPA]|
Bank of America has joined several other financial institutions in refusing to handle payments for the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
In a statement on Saturday, the bank said it will no longer process any transactions that it believes are intended for the site, which has released thousands of secret US diplomatic cables.
“This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments,” the bank said.
The action comes as WikiLeaks says it plans to release information about banks. The site’s founder has previously said it has a trove of documents on Bank of America.
Other financial institutions, including Visa and PayPal have also stopped handling payments for WikiLeaks, moves which hurt the site’s ability to accept donations and support publishing efforts.
The websites of some companies that have cut ties with WikiLeaks have come under cyber attack in recent weeks by hackers who support its mission.
WikiLeaks responded to Bank of America’s announcement with a Twitter message urging supporters to stop doing business with the bank.
“We ask that all people who love freedom close out their accounts at Bank of America,” WikiLeaks said in a Twitter post on Saturday. It also called on businesses to switch funds from the bank.
In an interview with CNBC on Friday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reiterated that his organisation has plans to soon release information about banks, and he told Forbes magazine last month that the data would show “unethical practices”.
In the Forbes interview, Assange promised a “megaleak” of tens of thousands of internal documents sourced from an unspecified “big US bank”.
He told Forbes the documents “give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms”.
Assange was more specific in an interview with Computerworld magazine in 2009, when he said that his organisation had a trove of files on Bank of America.
“At the moment, for example, we are sitting on 5GB [of documents] from Bank of America, one of the executive’s hard drives. Now how do we present that? It’s a difficult problem,” he was quoted as telling the magazine.