Visa, Mastercard Resume Wikileaks Payment Handling

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Credit card companies Visa and Mastercard are once again processing donations to WikiLeaks, says DataCell

Visa and Mastercard have reportedly resumed payment processing for WikiLeaks, after the organisation’s service provider DataCell threatened to take legal action against the two companies last week.

DataCell, the Icelandic payment processor that handles the WikiLeaks account, issued a statement on 7 July, announcing that supporters of WikiLeaks can now use Visa and Mastercard to donate to the whistleblowing site via a dedicated website.

The company explained that an alternative payment processor had “opened the gateway for payments” with Visa and Mastercard – as well as American Express, which was not previously an option.

“We choose to interpret this, as that Visa and Mastercard has in fact given in to our demand that the payment services was reinstated,” said the DataCell statement, attributed to CEO Andreas Fink and COO Olafur Sigurvinsson. “We are now able again to process donations to Wikileaks (and that we in general are able to receive payments via international Credit cards for DataCell’s professional services).”

Illegal financial blockade

The credit card companies imposed the ban on payments to WikiLeaks after the site started publishing stolen US 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”.

The blockade has remained in place since then, in spite of a series of focused distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the websites of Visa and Mastercard by notorious hacktivist group Anonymous, as part of its Operation:Payback campaign.

DataCell sent a letter to Visa and Mastercard on 9 June, accusing 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.

Further action in Denmark

Similar threats were also sent to Teller AS, a Danish company licensed to process transactions on behalf of Visa and Mastercard. Teller had ceased processing WikiLeaks payments on the instruction of the two card companies.

According to Datacell, Teller had said that it was ready to reinstate the services, after a study carried out in January showed no indication of illegal activity, but Visa and MasterCard insisted that the payment services should be kept closed.

“DataCell is happy that our threats of legal action have had this effect. But the battle is by far not over,” said the company. “We will initiate the law suit in Denmark to get compensated for our losses in the last 7 month, and we consider it likely that we will file the complaint before the EU Commission.”

Visa and Mastercard were contacted for comment but did not respond in time for the publication of this article.

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