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Donation block weakens WikiLeaks

WASHINGTON – WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website that has been at the center of some of the world’s most controversial news for the past 18 months, is facing dire economic times, largely, the website says, because Visa, MasterCard and PayPal have refused for more than 10 months to process donations made on its behalf.

The total financial cost of what WikiLeaks calls a blockade is uncertain, but the lack of resources mixed with turmoil that has surrounded the organization has kept the website from accepting new documents from would-be leakers for much of the year, its spokesman says.

WikiLeaks said on its Twitter feed that it would announce a new fundraising effort Monday, but how successful that can be without a lifting of the credit card barrier is an unknown. More than 90 percent of online transactions are handled through credit cards.

That means donors wishing to contribute to WikiLeaks must send money to two European bank accounts, a cumbersome and expensive process.

What large donors the organization has, said spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson, give primarily to help with legal expenses for the website’s founder, Julian Assange, who is currently awaiting a British court decision on whether he should be extradited to Sweden for questioning in a sexual misconduct case. Those funds are “separately controlled” by an outside committee, Hrafnsson said.


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