Court orders firm to restore WikiLeaks payment processing or face fine

Despite recent setbacks in the extradition case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the whistleblower site has been handed a victory regarding payment processing.

Reykjavik's District Court ordered Valitor, formerly Visa Iceland, which handles Visa and MasterCard payments in Iceland, to re-open credit card payments to WikiLeaks within two weeks. If it fails to do so, Valitor faces daily penalties of 800,000 Icelandic krónur (£4,000), WikiLeaks said in a statement.

The case dates back to December 2010, when Visa and MasterCard blocked payments to WikiLeaks through DataCell, the site's credit card processing partner. The move came after WikiLeaks released 250,000 US State Department cables, which the White House said "could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk."

PayPal followed suit, refusing to process WikiLeaks donations because its terms of service prohibited the support of illegal activity.

Last month, DataCell sued Valitor over the move, prompting today's ruling. WikiLeaks has also asked the European Commission to investigate the issue. Similar lawsuits remain active in Denmark and Belgium.

"One by one those involved in the attempted censorship of WikiLeaks will find themselves on the wrong side of history," Assange warned in a statement.

The credit card blockade resulted in a 95 per cent drop in donations, costing the site around $20 million (£13 million), WikiLeaks said.

"This is a significant victory against Washington's attempt to silence WikiLeaks," Assange said.

"We will not be silenced," he continued. "Economic censorship is censorship. It is wrong."

Visa Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The payment blocks caught the attention of hackers, prompting various attacks on the Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal websites after the shutdown.