At a press conference in London on Monday it was announced that Julian Assange’s secret-sharing organization WikiLeaks is to take a temporary break from releasing information because of a lack of funds. The organization intends to fight a “blockade” by credit card companies.
The website lost “tens of millions of dollars” in funding because of the refusal to accept donations. “WikiLeaks has published the biggest leaks in journalistic history,” the organization said in a statement today. “This has triggered aggressive retaliation from powerful groups.”
At a press conference in London at 1pm today on Monday Mr Assange was due to make the announcement, and appeal for donations to help flight the blockade.
WikiLeaks said “in order to fight for its survival” it decided to stop publishing secret state documents for a while till it manages to battle the financial blockade through the courts, “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 financial problems for the site started on 7 December last year when Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union refused to accept donations for WikiLeaks.
This unlawful financial blockade destroyed 95 per cent of its revenues leaving the website near-broke. WikiLeaks spokeswoman Kristinn Hrafnsson said. “It could have received 40 million to 50 million Euros if it weren’t for the blockade.” Assange added that WikiLeaks – which he said had about 20 employees – needs an additional $3.5 million to keep it going into 2013.
The supposed reason for blocking the site – WikiLeaks has published the biggest leaks in journalistic history. This has triggered aggressive retaliation from powerful groups.
Each company gave its own explanation for the blockade, concerning over the nature of the secret-spilling site. But WikiLeaks supporters suppose that MasterCard and Visa still process payments for fringe groups such as the American KKK or the far-right British National Party and that neither WikiLeaks nor any of its staff have been charged with any crime.
At the conference, Assange also noticed that on Nov. 28 a new, independent certificate authority site will be launched, because other certificate authorities “cannot be trusted.”
“You cannot trust any HTTPS connection on the Internet right now, as intelligence agencies have infiltrated all certificate authorities,” he said.
Assange also put his chances of being extradited without the possibility of appeal at “30 percent.”
WikiLeaks has recently taken steps to battle against the blockade, including a series of auctions and moves toward cell phone-enabled donations. Assange said that his group was switching its focus from soliciting small-time donations, which typically net about $25, to getting money from a “constellation of wealthy individuals.”
WikiLeaks said that it had “commenced pre- litigation action against the blockade in Iceland, Denmark, the UK, Brussels, the United States and Australia. We have lodged an anti-trust complaint at the European Commission and expect a decision by mid-November as to whether the European Competition Authority will open a full investigation into the wrongdoing of VISA and MasterCard.”
As for Assange, he still remains under house arrest in. He claims no WikiLeaks donations have ever gone toward his own legal fund. [via CBS (CA)]