(This statement has been issued by Wikileaks to bring the banking blockade against them in public domain. they are seaking public support and donations for the kind of work they did in past few months. please read and support.)
WikiLeaks has published the biggest leaks in journalistic history. 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 attack has destroyed 95% 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 US government itself found that there were no lawful grounds to add WikiLeaks to a US financial blockade. But the blockade of WikiLeaks by politicized US finance companies continues regardless.
As a result, WikiLeaks has been running on cash reserves for the past eleven months. The blockade has cost 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. Our scarce resources now must focus on fighting the unlawful banking blockade. If this financial attack stands unchallenged, a dangerous, oppressive and undemocratic precedent will have been set, the implications of which go far beyond WikiLeaks and its work. Any organization that falls foul of powerful finance companies or their political allies can expect similar extrajudicial action. Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and other international NGOs that work to expose the wrongdoing of powerful players risk the same fate as WikiLeaks. If publishing the truth about war is enough to warrant such aggressive action by Washington insiders, all newspapers that have published WikiLeaks’ materials are on the verge of having their readers and advertisers blocked from paying for their subscriptions.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has openly criticized the financial blockade against WikiLeaks, as have the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. The blockade erects a wall between us and our supporters, preventing them from affiliating with and defending the cause of their choice. It violates the competition laws and trade practice legislation of numerous states. It arbitrarily singles out an organization that has not committed any illegal act in any country and cuts it off from its financial lifeline in every country. In Australia, a formal, US triggered investigation into our operations found that WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange have no case to answer. In the US, our publishing is protected by the First Amendment, as has been repeatedly demonstrated by a wide variety of respected legal experts on the US Constitution. In January 2011 the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy C. Geithner, announced that there were no grounds to blacklist WikiLeaks. There are no judgements, or even charges, against WikiLeaks or its staff anywhere in the world.
The most powerful players in the banking industry have shown themselves to be a politicized arm of Washington. This collusion has occurred outside of any judicial or administrative process. The reach of these companies is global and violates the most basic principles of sovereignty. In Europe, VISA and MasterCard together control 97% of the card payment market. Alternatives have been aggressively opposed by VISA and US embassies. The European Central Bank announced plans in 2008 to introduce a European card system. A similar 2010 proposal in Russia together with a bill banning individualized VISA transaction records from going to the US were met with intervention by the US Embassy in Moscow. VISA calls itself the world’s largest currency, but every transaction is controlled by the VISA corporation and the groups that influence it. VISA is a national security problem and a threat to state sovereignty. No state, individual or organization has full economic autonomy or privacy if they rely on VISA. It is able to provide significant intelligence on not only individual behaviour and economic relationships but on large sections of the entire microeconomy and the movement of labour.
The Bank of America is one of the principle promoters of the WikiLeaks financial blockade; it is also the creator of VISA, which until 1976 was called the “Bank Americard”. In February this year, it was revealed in detail that the Bank of America had commissioned, through Washington lawyers Hunton & Williams, a consortium of three US intelligence contractors, including HBGary, to propose a systematic US $2 million/month multi-pronged attack to hack and smear WikiLeaks. HBGary was referred to the bank’s lawyers by contacts within the US Department of Justice. The correspondence and proposals, which include plans to target journalists and lawyers supporting WikiLeaks, are now public.
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. We have 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.