WikiLeaks website out of money

WIKILEAKS, the worldwide web’s most notorious secret-spiller, is going silent because it’s broke.

WikiLeaks said in a statement last night that it would temporarily stop publishing in order to focus on making money.

The whistle-blowing website founded by Australian Julian Assange said the blockade imposed by financial companies including Visa, MasterCard, Western Union and PayPal had left it with no choice.

The statement said that, in order to ensure survival, WikiLeaks must “aggressively fundraise in order to fight back against this blockade and its proponents”.

US-based financial companies pulled the plug on WikiLeaks shortly after it began publishing some 250,000 State Department cables last year.

The group says the restrictions starved it of nearly all its revenue.

The group has long shown signs of financial distress.

In a recent statement about Mr Assange’s contested book deal, the group said it did not have enough money to hire a lawyer.

Mr Assange remains under legal pressure in Europe and the US. A decision on whether to extradite him from Britain to Sweden to face sex crime allegations is expected in the next few weeks.

He also may face possible legal action in the US.

The refusal to accept donations had cost the website tens of millions of dollars in lost funding, the website said.

London’s The Daily Telegraph reported Mr Assange was due to make the announcement at a press conference in London early today, and appeal for donations to help fight the blockade.

“In order to ensure our future survival, WikiLeaks is now forced to temporarily suspend its publishing operations and aggressively fundraise in order to fight back against this blockade and its proponents,” the statement said.

The financial problems for WikiLeaks started last December 7 when Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union refused to accept donations for WikiLeaks.

This unlawful financial blockade, WikiLeaks said, destroyed 95 per cent of its revenues, leaving the website near broke.

The website blamed the blockade on a reaction to its decision to start publishing the first of 250,000 leaked US government cables days earlier.

“WikiLeaks has published the biggest leaks in journalistic history,” the website said last night.

“This has triggered aggressive retaliation from powerful groups.

“Since 7th December 2010 an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade has been imposed by Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union.

“The blockade came into force within 10 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.

“As a result, WikiLeaks has been running on cash reserves for the past 11 months.

“The blockade has cost the organisation 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.

WikiLeaks said that it had commenced pre-litigation action against the blockade in Iceland, Denmark, Britain, Brussels, the US and Australia.

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