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Wikileaks to Break 'Bank Blockade' with US Foundation
Whistleblowers seek to restore funding 500 days after Visa, MasterCard and PayPal blocked donations
US backers of transparency organization Wikileaks have announced plans to establish a foundation for the site seeking a way to allow donors to give money to Julian Assange's Wikileaks once again. Wikileaks has undergone over 500 days of a "banking blockade" after Visa, MasterCard and PayPal blocked donations from going to the website.
WikiLeaks has lost 95% of its donation income since the blockade was called by US senator Joe Lieberman.
"Supporters based in the US are now in talks with Assange to establish a US-based foundation aimed at funding organizations cut off by private companies in situations with first amendment implications," reports The Guardian.
Spearheading the campaign are Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers leaker, and John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the US online rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
"We now have organizations with the ability to stifle free expression with no bill of rights that applies to them – just terms of service," he said.
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Barlow said: "The foundation will aim to support WikiLeaks and others, like bloggers, who have been targeted by such blockades. We hope this will make a moral argument that will change these companies' minds, but it could also be the basis of legal challenges."
A US-based foundation would be in a stronger position to make challenges based around the US first amendment – which covers, among other provisions, freedom of speech and freedom of the press – than WikiLeaks' current major funder, the Wau Holland Foundation, which is based in Germany.
Barlow also warned about the growing power of private organisations in the internet era, saying that protections which restricted governments often did not cover private-sector censorship. [...]
WikiLeaks strongly condemned the "extrajudicial" action.
"Five hundred days have passed since a cartel of the world's largest financial players, Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union instituted a consolidated, extrajudicial financial blockade against WikiLeaks," it said.
"The financial blockade was imposed at a point at which the public wished to express its support unequivocally through millions of dollars in small donations. The blockade cuts WikiLeaks off from its small donors, the vast majority of our donor base. The financial cartel has so far acted with impunity in an attempt to censor WikiLeaks and curtail our supporters' economic rights."
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