Wikileaks suspends publication of secrets amid 'financial blockade'

Summary:Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, said today that the organisation would cease publication of secrets to focus on lifting the "financial blockade" by major U.S. banks.

LONDON -- Julian Assange announced today at a press conference in the British capital, that it would suspend the publication of secrets to focus on raising funds to continue operations.

Speaking today, Assange told reporters that Wikileaks must "continue to fight the blockade" imposed by major U.S. banks.

The Wikileaks founder introduced the event in front of a backdrop of Visa, Bank of America, Mastercard and PayPal logos displayed upside down.

The 'financial blockade', which began in December 2010, only ten days after the initial release of the U.S. diplomatic cables, caused Wikileaks to lose 95 percent of its revenue, Assange said, adding that the organisation has been running on cash reserves for the past 11 months.

In a statement, Wikileaks said: "In order to ensure our future survival, Wikileaks is now forced to temporarily suspend its publishing operations and aggressively fund-raise in order to fight back against this blockade and its proponents".

"The U.S. government itself found that there were no lawful grounds to add Wikileaks to a U.S. financial blockade. But the blockade of Wikileaks by politicised U.S. finance companies continues regardless", he added.

Wikileaks' financial troubles began after the 'Cablegate' releases, where the organisation published tens of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables from embassies around the world. As the largest leak of classified material in U.S. history, many organisations Wikileaks had used restricted or denied the self-styled media organisation from its services.

This led to Anonymous, the hacktivist group associated with public message boards and forums, to backlash against the companies with denial-of-service attacks.

PayPal, Visa and other major U.S. banks aside, other technology companies like Amazon had pulled the plug on Wikileaks, claiming reasons such as breaking terms of service, to avoid potential conflicts of interest whilst operating under U.S. law.

In September, after a row with the Guardian newspaper, which led to a password being published in a book by a Guardian journalist, Wikileaks published the full unredacted cables from the Cablegate files.

Wikileaks began pre-litigation action against the financial blockade in Iceland, Denmark, the UK, in Brussels, the United States and Australia.

Assange is currently fighting extradition at appeal level as he remains on bail. His appeal outcome is expected in the coming weeks, which may lead to his prosecution in the United States.

Related:

Topics: Banking, Amazon, United Kingdom

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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