PayPal has lifted a freeze on the legal defence fund of Private Bradley Manning who may face treason charges for leaking United States national intelligence to the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.
The payments giant last night iced the accounts owned by organisations Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network, which had called for public donations to raise funds for the 23-year-old's legal defence.
The Bradley Manning Support Network spokesperson Loraine Reitman said the closure followed weeks of discussion with PayPal.
"…by their own admission there's no legal obligation for them to close down our account," Reitman said in a statement. "This was an internal policy decision by PayPal."
According to the network's spokesperson Jeff Paterson, PayPal would not lift the block unless it authorised the company to withdraw funds from its checking account, a move the organisation was not prepared to take.
"Our accounting does not allow for this type of direct access by a third party, nor do I trust PayPal as a business entity with this responsibility given their punitive actions against Wikileaks," Paterson said.
Paterson said PayPal was "morally bankrupt".
However, PayPal director of communications Anuj Nayar said on the company blog that the closure was lifted after it found it had "sufficient information to meet our statutory 'Know Your Customer' obligations".
"Let me be clear, this decision had nothing to do with Wikileaks," Nayar said.
PayPal in December blocked the official Wikileaks donations account with the company. It said at the time that the block was due to a "violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity".
MasterCard also broke its association with the whistleblower.