Today's decision marked the most important victory to date against the unlawful and arbitrary economic blockade erected by US companies against WikiLeaks. Iceland's Supreme Court upheld the decision that Valitor (formerly VISA Iceland and current Visa subcontractor) had unlawfully terminated its contract with WikiLeaks donations processor DataCell.
This strong judgement is an important milestone for WikiLeaks' legal battle to end the economic blockade that has besieged the organisation since early December 2010. Despite the effects of the blockade having crippled WikiLeaks resources, the organisation is fighting the blockade on many fronts. It is a battle that concerns free speech and the future of the free press; it concerns fundamental civil rights; and it is a struggle for the rights of individuals to vote with their wallet and donate to the cause they believe in.
If the gateway to WikiLeaks donations is not re-opened within 15 days Visa's Valitor will be fined 800,000 ISK ($6,830) per day.
WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange, said:
"This is a victory for free speech. This is a victory against the rise of economic censorship to crack down against journalists and publishers"
"We thank the Icelandic people for showing that they will not be bullied by powerful Washington backed financial services companies like Visa. And we send out a warning to the other companies involved in this blockade: you're next."
"We hope that the that the European Commission also acknowledges that the economic blockade against WikiLeaks is an unlawful and arbitrary censorship mechanism that threatens freedom of the press across Europe. If it fails to do so, the Commission must be regarded as failing to live up to the founding European principles of economic and political freedom."
Today's verdict strengthens other fronts in this battle. There is an active legal action in Denmark against a Danish sub-contractor for VISA, equivalent to Valitor. The decision will also buttress the pre-litigation work already under way in various jurisdictions against the international card companies and financial services companies - VISA and MasterCard, Western Union, PayPal and Bank of America, and other payment facilitators that teamed with these giants to form a concerted, and equally unlawful economic blockade against the organisation.
In November the European Parliament passed a resolution which included a clause drafted specifically in relation to the economic blockade against Wikileaks. The resolution called on the European Commission to draft regulations that will prevent online payment facilitators from arbitrarily denying services to companies or organisations, such as WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks has also launched a formal complaint to the European Commission on the basis that VISA and MasterCard, which together take up 95% of the European market, have unlawfully abused their dominant market position. The European Commission is still evaluating whether it will open a formal investigation but documents already submitted by the companies reveal that the credit card companies were in talks with powerful figures in the US Congress and Senate (Senator Lieberman and Congressman Peter T. King). http://wikileaks.org/European-Commission-enabling.html
Although it is still not possible to donate directly to WikiLeaks via credit card, freedom of press campaigners including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Elsberg, the actor John Cusack, and the Founder of the California-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) John Perry Barlow, have set up the Freedom of the Press Foundation to collect money for WikiLeaks. It allows donors to make anonymous, tax-deductable donations. http://wikileaks.org/WikiLeaks-declares-war-on-banking.html
This and similar mechanisms for Europeans are available on http://shop.wikileaks.org/donate
Freedom of the Press Foundation:
Julian Assange asylum (one year, June 19, 2013)
Bradley Manning (trial June 2)