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Fed up with being unable to receive funds via Visa and Mastercard, on Monday Wikileaks issued an ultimatum. According to the self described, “not-for-profit media organisation,” should the two financial giants not lift their ban on donations to Wikileaks, they will be laying a complaint with The European Commission.
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union entrusted with proposing and enforcing European Union legislation.
Svein Andri Sveinsson, the controversial site’s Iceland based lawyer is reported to have said that should the ban not be lifted by Thursday, Wikileaks would lay it’s complaint against the two companies.
WikiLeaks will also file separate complaints in both Denmark and Iceland, likely in September, hoping to recover the tens of millions of euros it says it has lost through the seven month donation freeze, Sveinsson said.
“There are three battlefields in this case. One in Brussels, one in Denmark and one in Iceland”, the lawyer explained.
At the commission in Brussels, WikiLeaks will charge that Visa and MasterCard have abused their dominant market position and violated European competition rules.
“Visa and Mastercard are not small companies down the street. Visa and Mastercard have a total[sic] dominant position on this market”, Sveinsson said, noting the two companies control 96 percent of the European credit card market.
“They cannot behave as they want to. They have to have reasonable and logical motives, and they haven’t”, he added.
The Brussels complaint will be filed through an Icelandic company affiliated with Wikileaks called Sunshine Press Productions and another Icelandic firm, DataCell, which handles the collection of donations to WikiLeaks.
In December of last year, Visa and MasterCard imposed a ban on all payments made to WikiLeaks.
Following the moves by Visa, Mastercard, and other financial institutions deemed to be “enemies” of Wikileaks, Anonymous, the self-styled hacktivist defenders of internet freedom and Wikileaks, launched DDoS attacks on them. The attacks resulted in the shutdown of Mastercard’s and others’ website.
DataCell wants the freeze lifted, but also wants to be compensated for all funds it thinks it has lost over the past seven months.
“That’s 130 000 euros per day,” Sveinsson claimed. “If you count that over the period, that’s an eight figure number. In euros.”
Returning to a favourite topic for anyone speaking on behalf of Wikileaks or its beleaguered leader, Julian Assange, Sveinsson insisted the site’s work has been misrepresented by its enemies.
“Many people think WikiLeaks are hackers. But they’re not, they’re just another press organisation”, he said.
“They get confidential information that is leaked to them… They’re not hackers, and they’re not leaking the information themselves.”
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.
Late last year, Assange, was accused of sex crimes in Sweden and was arrested in the UK where he now is fighting extradition to face those charges.
Assange and his supporters have long contended that the extradition to Sweden is a cover by which to get him to the US where he will face as to now unidentified charges. All governments involved, the US, UK and Sweden have denied these claims. — with additional reporting by AFP