WikiLeaks re-opens credit card donations in face of Visa/MasterCard blockade

Julian Assange (WikiLeaks)

Forced to rely upon quickly evaporating cash reserves, controversial ‘whistleblower’ website WikiLeaks has begun to accept credit card donations once again, the organization announced today. The move comes amidst a two-year blockade instituted by Visa and MasterCard, which stopped processing payments to WikiLeaks following its publication of a cache of U.S. embassy cables in 2010.

The Visa/MasterCard blockade still stands. However, WikiLeaks has found a work-around, thanks to the help of the French non-profit FDNN (Fund for the Defense of Net Neutrality). FDNN has set up a fund for WikiLeaks. Donations to this fund are processed by French banking system Carte Bleue, which is an international partner of Visa and MasterCard. These credit card companies are legally obligated to process payments made through the Carte Bleue system, thus opening the loophole for WikiLeaks. Anyone interested in donating to WikiLeaks may do so using their Visa or MasterCard credit cards — for now, at least.

“WikiLeaks advises all global supporters to make use of this avenue immediately before VISA/MasterCard attempts to shut it down,” wrote WikiLeaks in a press release. “However, WikiLeaks and FDNN are ready for the fight.”

WikiLeaks has long maintained that the Visa/MasterCard blockade is “unlawful,” and has spent the past two years fighting it. Just last week, the organization snagged a victory in an Icelandic court after the judge ordered Valitor hf, the Visa/MasterCard partner in Iceland, to open credit card payments made to WikiLeaks within two weeks or face a hefty fine.

WikiLeaks says that its cash reserves, which served as its only source of income until now, have fallen from about $980,000 at the end of December 2010 to roughly $120,000 as of the end of June of this year. WikiLeaks claims the blockade by Visa and MasterCard stopped “more than 95 percent” of donations, which cost the organization “in excess of” $20 million.