Julian Assange made an announcement recently that he may have no other option than to shut down his website, WikiLeaks, by the end of the year. The site has been struggling financially over the past 10 months due to a blockade put into place by eBay, PayPal, Western Union, MasterCard, Bank of America, and Visa that prevents any donations made to the site from coming in via those channels. The restriction was enacted upon the heels of the organization releasing thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies all over the world.
“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,” Assange announced at a news conference that was held on Monday, according to Reuters.
WikiLeaks depends on donations to survive. Reuters reported that during the 24-hour period prior to the blocking of credit card donations, the organization reported receiving some $135,000. Currently, it is only pulling in an average of $9,700 in donations a month.
Assange claimed that the blockade, which he asserts has no legal grounds, has eliminated “95 %” of the Web site’s revenue, costing the group “tens of millions of dollars.” He went on to refer to the blockade as a “dangerous, oppressive and undemocratic” attack led by the United States, according to The New York Times.
As reported by TheNew York Times, Assange additionally stated that WikiLeaks and he were victims of a United States Treasury–led campaign “conspiracy to smear and destroy” them. He also claimed that American intelligence agencies and “right-wing” forces in the U.S. are involved. He declared that there were “high-level calls” to assassinate him and other WikiLeaks associates; however, he did not support the allegation with specifics.
The Web site WikiLeaks accepts confidential documents from leakers and whistle-blowers, and then publishes them online. Assange claimed that, as a result of the financial blockade, WikiLeaks has been forced to cease work on the processing of tens of thousands of secret documents that are in its possession. It has had, instead, to focus attention on lawsuits that have been filed in the United States, Australia, Scandinavian countries, and elsewhere. There is also been a formal petition made to the European Commission in an attempt to restore the site’s ability to receive money from donors sent via normal channels.