One year ago today, the financial blockade of WikiLeaks began. PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, and Amazon halted all financial transactions to the group. According to WikiLeaks, this cut 95 percent of their donations. Below, from WikiLeaks’ website, is a graph depicting just how damaging the blockade was:
As WikiLeaks says, “The blockade is outside of any accountable, public process. It is without democratic oversight or transparency.” Further more,”the US government itself found that there were no lawful grounds to add WikiLeaks to a US financial blockade. But the blockade of WikiLeaks by politicised US finance companies continues regardless.”
That these groups decided to cut funds from the journalistic outfit that provided more scoops and uncovered more abuses in one year than journalists from major newspapers have in a lifetime is pernicious in itself.
Worse, however, the blockade is a heinous manifestation of the collusion of government and giant, egregiously wealthy corporations to silence dissent, intimidate journalists, and discredit monumentally valuable human rights work. This is one aspect of corporatism that the Occupy Wall Street movement is railing against — when financial institutions and government work together to empower each other, it’s always at the expense of truth, transparency, justice, and the 99 percent.
Earlier this year, I wrote a lengthy summary of potential connections between U.S. media outlets, politicians, and financial institutions reacting to WikiLeaks’ CableGate release. That included this revealing PayPal bit:
PayPal representative Osama Bedier incited a minor uproar when he suggested he had been asked personally by the State Department to freeze WikiLeaks’ account. He later recanted that story, saying PayPal froze the account in response to public officials suggesting, though not to PayPal directly, that WikiLeaks has acted illegally.
Whether or not Bedier was personally contacted by the State Department (and it’s quite a bizarre slip of the tongue for him to suggest that that was the case), it’s clear these institutions are not acting because they think WikiLeaks might actually have broken any laws. Instead, they are falling in line with politicians who have smeared WikiLeaks, called Julian Assange a “high-tech terrorist,” and ignored the massive human rights abuses the releases uncovered.
One year later, the blockade continues, forcing WikiLeaks’ temporary suspension to raise money elsewhere. The organization has found some clever ways to circumvent the blockade, and even if they’re slightly less convenient than traditional means, it’s more than worth a little extra effort to help sustain the only real check to otherwise-unaccountable power that we have. You can donate here.