Visa Blocks WikiLeaks Payments Again

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Visa is once again blocking payments to WikiLeaks, closing the workaround which was uncovered yesterday

Visa has closed down a donation channel to WikiLeaks, after Icelandic payments processor DataCell announced yesterday that “an alternative payment processor” had opened the gateway for donations to be made to the whistleblowing website using Visa and Mastercard.

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

DataCell, which handles the WikiLeaks account, confirmed the news, adding that the third party payments processing company – Valitor (Visa Iceland) – had also decided to terminate its contract with DataCell.

“The reason they give is that orders have been given by the international card companies to close down the gateway and that processing donations to WikiLeaks is a violation of general terms between the two parties,” said DataCell in a statement.

DataCell Prepares For European Action

DataCell is now threatening to complain to the Icelandic Financial Authority, demanding that Valitor’s license to operate as a payment processing company be cancelled.

“DataCell regards this action on behalf of Visa as a clear sign that they are not willing to solve the situation. Therefore has DataCell accompanied by WikiLeaks instructed it’s lawyers to file a complaint to the European Commission next week,” the company added.

This latest statement backs up threats made by DataCell in a letter to Visa and Mastercard dated 9 June. The letter accused the companies of engaging in an unlawful US-influenced financial blockade, and warning that if the two companies did not remove the block on payments then a request for prosecution would be filed with the EU Commission.

The lawyers, based in Denmark and Iceland, said that the coordinated action by Visa and Mastercard to block all credit card transactions to WikiLeaks and DataCell constituted a violation of Articles 101(1) and 102 of the European Union’s Competition Rules, and also violated Danish merchant laws.

Both Visa and Mastercard imposed the ban on payments to WikiLeaks after the site started publishing leaked diplomatic cables in November 2010. Mastercard said at the time that it would take action against any organisation it believed to be involved in illegal activities “until the situation is resolved”.

However, despite a Visa-sponsored investigation in January showing no indication of illegal activity, Visa and MasterCard have both insisted that the payments to WikiLeaks should remain suspended.

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