Financial problems may lead to the closure of the infamous WikiLeaks website by the end of this year, the group’s founder Julian Assange announced this week.
“If WikiLeaks does not find a way to remove this blockade we will simply not be able to continue by the turn of the new year,” Assange told the Associated Press. “If we don't knock down the blockade we simply will not be able to continue.”
On the WikiLeaks home page reads a cry for help:
“We are forced to temporarily suspend publishing whilst we secure our economic survival. For almost a year we have been fighting an unlawful financial blockade. We cannot allow giant US finance companies to decide how the whole world votes with its pocket. Our battles are costly. We need your support to fight back. Please donate now.”
WikiLeaks said it has been running on cash reserves for the past 11 months, with the blockade costing the organization tens of millions of pounds in “lost donations at a time of unprecedented operational costs resulting from publishing alliances in over 50 countries, and their inevitable counter-attacks.”
In a statement made public on its website Monday, WikiLeaks said that it would stop publishing in order to focus on making money, “explaining that the blockade imposed by financial companies including Visa, MasterCard, Western Union and PayPal left it with no choice.”
In November 2010, WikiLeaks began publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain.
“WikiLeaks has published the biggest leaks in journalistic history. This has triggered aggressive retaliation from powerful groups,” the statement continued.
The documents give people around the world an unprecedented insight into the US Government’s foreign activities.
Following the documents’ release, several U.S.-based financial companies terminated their association with WikiLeaks, which the group says cut off nearly all its revenue.
“Since 7th December 2010 an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade has been imposed by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union. The attack has destroyed 95 percent of our revenue. The blockade came into force within ten days of the launch of Cablegate as part of a concerted US-based, political attack that included vitriol by senior right wing politicians, including assassination calls against WikiLeaks staff. The blockade is outside of any accountable, public process. It is without democratic oversight or transparency,” the WikiLeaks statement said.
In related news, the Wall Street Journal has reported that the U.S. government obtained secret court orders that would force Google as well as a small Internet provider to hand over information from email accounts of a volunteer for WikiLeaks.
The request centered on Jacob Appelbaum, a volunteer for the website, and included the email addresses of people he had corresponded with during the past two years, TechZone360 reported. The newspaper said the request did not include full e-mails according to the documents it had reviewed.
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