Donations to Wikileaks through Mastercard and Visa blocked… again

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The Wikileaks’ vs credit card giants Visa and Mastercard legal spat continues unabated…

Following the whistleblowing site’s ultimatum to sue, and the credit card giants’ apparent decision to reinstate donations, all within a week, Visa has announced that the lifting of the ban was not meant to be.

According to AFP, Visa Europe announced in a statement it had reinstated the block on credit card donations to the whistle-blower website, after discovering it had been “breached”.

Quoting Sveinn Andri Sveinnson, Wikileaks’ lawyer, Forbes reported that this move not only blocked payments from Visa, but payments from Mastercard and American Express too.

In the statement, Visa Europe said, “An acquirer briefly accepted payments on a merchant site linked to WikiLeaks. As soon as this came to our attention, action was taken with the suspension of Visa payment acceptance to the site remaining in place”.

Donations via American Express were allowed for the first time on Wikileaks last week before news of the “breach”.

Following the apparent “breach”, DataCell, the Icelandic data hosting service provider which handles donation collections for WikiLeaks had said, “We choose to interpret this as that Visa and Mastercard [have] in fact given in to our demand that the payment services [be] reinstated”.

This statement was referencing the ultimatum Datacell had placed — on Wikileaks behalf — for donations to be reinstated or a legal challenge to be mounted before the European Commission.

After Visa’s reinstating of the block, Datacell, in another statement, said it would again be pursuing the complaint to the European Commission, which they had indicated they would drop.

Datacell said in a statement following the ban’s reinstatement that it, “…regards this action on behalf of Visa as a clear sign that they are not willing to solve the situation. Therefore DataCell has, accompanied by WikiLeaks, instructed its lawyers to file a complaint to the European commission”.

Quoted by Bloomberg News Andreas Fink, DataCell’s chief executive said that in the period that donations to Wikileaks were reinstated, it received “five-to-six digit figures” in contributions.

Though unverified, this figure is noteworthy as part of Wikileaks’ claims against Visa and Mastercard are for a loss of earnings.

Wikileaks, through a series of spectacular scoops, — particularly the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, the Guantamo Files, the Palestine Papers and Cablegate — has lifted the lid on the often opaque and secretive world of international politics. These releases have raised the ire of many governments across the world, particularly the US which was greatly embarrassed by the Cablegate releases.

Visa and MasterCard imposed a ban on all payments to the site in December following CableGate.

The companies’ stated reasoning was that the of the secret diplomatic cables may constitute a violation of their terms of service.

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