By Mia Shanley
STOCKHOLM, July 3 International credit card
donations to WikiLeaks are flowing again after an Icelandic
court ruling forced MasterCard's and Visa's local agent to
process payments, the anti-secrecy organisation said on
One of WikiLeaks' most important sources of funding -
donations made from Visa and MasterCard users around the globe -
was cut off in 2010 when the firms stopped processing donations
to WikiLeaks' only direct credit card payment line, located in
Their move came after criticism by the United States of the
anti-secrecy organisation's release of thousands of sensitive
U.S. diplomatic cables, which embarrassed Washington.
The online payment service PayPal, also among the firms that
suspended WikiLeaks accounts used to collect donations, said at
the time it had acted at the behest of the U.S. government,
which deemed WikiLeaks' activities illegal in the United States.
"This is in my mind a big victory in the ongoing battle
against the financial companies that have attacked us,"
WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said by telephone from
He declined to say how many new donations had arrived. The
companies handling payments also confirmed that credit card
lines had been opened. Hrafnsson added that WikiLeaks' PayPal
account remained frozen.
DataCell, the Icelandic data hosting provider that deals
with WikiLeaks' payments, announced only this week that donation
lines were open after uncertainty, following the Icelandic
Supreme Court's decision in April, that credit card firms had
"We have had donations from around the world," DataCell's
chief executive Andreas Fink told Reuters.
Fink said DataCell had been processing about 70,000 euros a
day in donations for WikiLeaks just before the blockade. Iceland
has been a key location for WikiLeaks due to its record of
protecting Internet freedom.
WikiLeaks said its donations had plummeted 95 percent after
it was cut off by the world's two largest credit and debit
processors, even though it found some workarounds through third
DataCell won a Supreme Court ruling against Visa's and
MasterCard's local partner, Valitor, in April.
"We can continue to process donations for WikiLeaks for as
long as we like," said Fink. "There has never been anything
illegal. We have done normal business with a normal entity."
WikiLeaks said it had confirmation that MasterCard had
decided to reverse its decision to block direct donations to
WikiLeaks in Iceland. Visa Europe told Reuters earlier on
Wednesday that Valitor would also comply with the court order.
The donations are used to pay for WikiLeaks' servers,
salaries and other operational costs.
Hrafnsson said on Wednesday that he did not foresee any
WikiLeaks funds reaching former U.S. National Security Agency
contractor Edward Snowden, holed up in a Moscow international
airport, whom WikiLeaks is helping to try to obtain asylum.
A former director at DataCell said recently he would send a
private plane for Snowden, wanted by Washington for espionage
after divulging classified details of U.S. phone and Internet
surveillance, if Iceland granted him asylum.
Legal costs for WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange come from
a separate fund, Hrafnsson said.
Assange, who fled to Ecuador's embassy in London last year
to avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault
allegations, has said the financial blockade cost WikiLeaks in
excess of $20 million.