WikiLeaks donations by Visa ruled OK in Iceland

The verdict marks 'a victory for free speech,' the whistle-blowing site says

The three-year blockade against donations to WikiLeaks may have just been chiseled away, in Iceland, by a ruling handed down by the European country's Supreme Court.

The verdict, handed down Wednesday, says that the Visa subcontractor Valitor had unlawfully terminated its contract with WikiLeaks' donation processor, DataCell, and must re-open the processing of donations to the whistle-blowing site within 15 days or else face a fine of ISK800,000, or US$6,830, per day. WikiLeaks sued Valitor last year after the company terminated the contract with DataCell. Valitor made the move without plausible explanation, WikiLeaks alleged.

Visa, in addition to MasterCard, American Express and others, stopped processing payments for WikiLeaks in 2010 when the site began to release about 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables. As a result, 95 percent of WikiLeaks' revenue was wiped out.

The organization would need to raise nearly $1 million to continue publishing through 2013, it said in a tweet in December.

But Wednesday's ruling marks an "important milestone" in WikiLeaks' efforts to end the economic blockade, the organization said in a statement.

"This is a victory for free speech," WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange said.

"We thank the Icelandic people for showing that they will not be bullied by powerful Washington-backed financial services companies like Visa," he said. "And we send out a warning to the other companies involved in this blockade: You're next."

Some other bits of commentary surrounding the ruling have been posted to WikiLeaks' Twitter account. At this point, WikiLeaks does not seem to be sure whether Visa will honor the ruling or simply pay the fine.

"Be interesting to see whether Visa will spend $204k a month in fines rather than lifting the blockade generally," the group tweeted Wednesday morning, but added, "Either way, we win."

Also, WikiLeaks does not expect the ruling to be appealed. "The Icelandic Supreme Court is the highest court in Iceland," the group tweeted. "There is no avenue of appeal for Valitor/Visa."

Moreover, WikiLeaks hopes Iceland's Supreme Court decision will pave the way for future successes in its battle with international credit card and financial services companies.

In 2011, DataCell filed a complaint with the European Commission charging that the overall blockade was a violation of European competition rules. The EU responded in 2012 that the case did not merit further investigation because it could not establish any actual infringement of European competition rules.

But with Iceland's ruling, "we hope that the European Commission also acknowledges that the economic blockade against WikiLeaks is an unlawful and arbitrary censorship mechanism that threatens freedom of the press across Europe," Assange said.

The verdict could also strengthen another WikiLeaks case in Denmark against a Danish Visa subcontractor similar to Valitor, the organization said.

Currently it is not possible to donate to WikiLeaks directly via credit card. In December, however, a new website was created by Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and some other civil rights activists to crowdsource donations for WikiLeaks and three other organizations.

Neither WikiLeaks nor Visa could be immediately reached to comment on Iceland's ruling.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags internetlegalsearch engineswikileakse-commercevisaamerican expressmastercardInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?