WikiLeaks has begun accepting donations through a French non-profit organization, as part of an attempt to circumvent a financial blockade from major credit card companies and online payment platforms. In a press release issued Wednesday, WikiLeaks said it is now accepting donations through Fonds de Défense de la Net Neutralité (Fund for the Defense of Net Neutrality), which has established a bank account for the whistle-blowing organization.
In December 2010, Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal stopped doing business with WikiLeaks, cutting off more than 95 percent of the organization's donations. As a result, WikiLeaks has been forced to lean on its cash reserves, which are held by the Wau Holland Foundation, a German charity devoted to freedom of information. Over time, however, those reserves have dwindled. As of June 2012, the organization had less than $124,000 in cash, compared to the $992,000 it held in December 2010.
"Our lawyers are waiting. Do it."
WikiLeaks won a small victory earlier this month, when an Icelandic court ordered business partner Valitor to re-open credit card donations to the organization. It hailed today's announcement as a milestone, too, though legal battles may loom on the horizon. The account set up by Fonds de Défense de la Net Neutralité operates through France's Carte Bleue credit and debit network, which is partnered with Visa and MasterCard. WikiLeaks claims that these credit card companies are "contractually barred from directly cutting off merchants through the Carte Bleue system," though founder Julian Assange anticipates a challenge.
"We beat them in Iceland and, by God, we’ll beat them in France as well," Assange said. "Let them shut it down. Let them demonstrate to the world once again their corrupt pandering to Washington. We’re waiting. Our lawyers are waiting. The whole world is waiting. Do it."