Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says a blockade by US finance companies has cut off 95% of the organization’s funding from donors, forcing Wikileaks to put all of its efforts right now into fundraising and not into its normal day to day operations.
“If Wikileaks does not find a way to remove this blockade, given our current levels of expenditure, we will simply not be able to continue by the turn of the year,” he told a news conference in London.
Assange is still in the UK awaiting the outcome of a High Court appeal against extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault charges.
He claims that since Wikileaks began publishing thousands of secret US government files and diplomatic cables online, an “arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade” has been imposed by Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union.
Only PayPal and Visa Europe have responded to Assange’s allegations with statements. Both said users of their payment services were required to operate within the law of the countries involved.
Assange plans to mount a fundraising campaign to fight back against this blockade, which he says now poses an “existential threat” to Wikileaks’ work. Assange says the blockade has deprived Wikileaks of tens of millions of euros in funding, according to The Financial Times.
He says the group is also taking pre-litigation action against the blockade in the UK, US, Iceland, Denmark, Belgium and Australia and has lodged an anti-trust complaint at the European Commission.
Wikileaks needs $3.5m to continue operating for the next 12 months, with dozens more leaks yet to be published, Assange said.