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Wikileaks Scores 'Significant Victory' vs Visa/MasterCard

Icelandic court rules that payment processor broke contract laws by blocking credit card donations to whistleblowing site

Common Dreams staff

WikiLeaks declared a 'significant victory' Thursday afternoon in its legal campaign against the financial blockade imposed by Visa and MasterCard after an Icelandic court ordered their local partner to resume processing credit card donations to the WikiLeaks site.

WikiLeaks says that the ensuing blockade has led to a 95 percent fall in contributions.

The judgment, handed down Thursday by the Reykjavik District Court, is “a very important milestone in our campaign,” WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told the Associated Press. Lawsuits remain active in Denmark and in Belgium, he said, but the Icelandic win was a "very important step in fighting back against these powerful banks.”

Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Bank of America and other U.S. financial institutions began to block donations to WikiLeaks in 2010 after the site began publishing more than 250,000 U.S. State Department cables. The financial service companies cited violations of their “terms of service” agreements as the reason for blocking the donations.

“This is a significant victory against Washington’s attempt to silence WikiLeaks,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a statement. “We will not be silenced. Economic censorship is censorship. It is wrong. When it’s done outside of the rule of law it’s doubly wrong. One by one those involved in the attempted censorship of WikiLeaks will find themselves on the wrong side of history.”

Attorney Sveinn Andri Sveinsson told Reuters that the Icelandic court ordered Valitor, VISA and MasterCard's Icelandic partner, to resume processing donations to WikiLeaks within two weeks or face about $6,000 a day in daily fines.

The Associated Press reports that Valitor can appeal the decision, but even if it chooses to comply with the judgment, it’s not clear that Visa or MasterCard will still allow customers to make donations to WikiLeaks.

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