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WikiLeaks says MasterCard has unblocked it from receiving donations

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Wikileaks Logo
Wikileaks Logo

There are some things money can't buy, but for everything else, including donations to WikiLeaks, there's MasterCard. WikiLeaks just published a statement on its website saying that the credit card company has finally resumed processing donations made to the secret-spilling organization using MasterCard. The news is a full reversal from the position MasterCard took back in December 2010, when it confirmed it would no longer be processing its customers' donations made to WikiLeaks in the wake of the organization's posting of over 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables online — a scandal known as "Cablegate." "MasterCard International, has backed down and reversed its position," reads the statement posted by WikiLeaks, which includes a link to its donations page. "WikiLeaks was notified of MasterCard International’s change in position by VALITOR, the Icelandic partner for VISA and MasterCard."

"backed down and reversed its position."

At the time, the company said it was cutting off donations because WikiLeaks was engaged in illegal activity under US law. MasterCard's move to cut off WikiLeaks' donations, along with similar moves by Visa, Paypal, and Bank of America, among others, and resulted in the nonprofit organization quickly losing much of its funding. WikiLeaks claimed that the "blockade" of credit card donations left in such a sorry state financially in the intervening years that it was almost broke, even resorting to auctioning off co-founder Julian Assange's personal effects and implementing a widely criticized paywall temporarily in order to try and raise money. The organization attempted some online work-arounds to circumvent the so-called "blockade." It also sued some payment providers and won in Icelandic court in 2012, but donations didn't resume immediately.

Still, WikiLeaks managed to eke through and survive until now. And as luck would have it, MasterCard's apparent reversal could not have come at a better time, with WikiLeaks suddenly prominent in the news again thanks to its support for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. We've reached out to MasterCard to explain why they reversed course now of all times and will update when we hear back.