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WikiLeaks calls for donations, dares Visa/MasterCard to shut them down


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WikiLeaks uses a French advocacy group to accept credit card donations.

Early Wednesday morning, WikiLeaks announced via its Twitter feed that it had opened a “path through the banking siege.”

Less than a week ago, an Icelandic court ruled that the merchant services account of the organization’s Iceland-based Web host must be reopened. WikiLeaks is now accepting donations through a French digital rights advocacy group, the Fund for Defense of Net Neutrality. The organization has set up a donation page with a drop-down option to donate to WikiLeaks.

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“The French credit card system, Carte Bleue, is coupled with the VISA/MasterCard system globally,” WikiLeaks wrote in an online statement. “VISA and MasterCard are contractually barred from directly cutting off merchants through the Carte Bleue system. The French non-profit FDNN (Fonds de Défense de la Net Neutralité in French) has set up a Carte Bleue fund for WikiLeaks.”

Visa and MasterCard did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

On Twitter, the group also attributed a quote to Julian Assange, who continues to be holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

“We beat them in Iceland and we’ll beat them in France as well,” he said.

On its website, WikiLeaks lists a myriad of other ways that people can donate, including sending direct bank transfers to various accounts in Iceland, Germany, and Australia. The tenacious group also seems to suggest that this financial avenue may be closed off, and that the group desperately needs money.

The Wau Holland Foundation, a German group named after the founder of the Chaos Computer Club, has been WikiLeaks’ primary receiving entity in Germany. The organization released a new monthly balance chart last week (PDF) showing WikiLeaks’ remaining assets at less than €100,000 ($122,000). At the same time last year, WikiLeaks maintained almost €600,000 ($735,900). The group’s assets reached their peak in December 2010 and January 2011 when its totals reached €800,000 ($981,200).

On its website last week, the Wau Holland Foundation also posted an “Intermediate Transparency Report 2012,” (PDF) for what it calls "Project 04: Enduring freedom of information,” in its support of WikiLeaks. At the end of June 2012, the report states WikiLeaks took in €32,828.11 (more than $40,000), but spent €246,619.70 (more than $300,000). The largest expense (more than €100,000/$120,000) was on “campaigns,” which include €515 for something called “journalist contextualization,” and over €73,000 on “external communications.” The group also spent nearly as much on “Logistics,” which are then sub-divided into “Logistics” and “Planning.”

Legal expenses only accounted for under €18,000 (roughly $22,000) of the six-month expenditure total.

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