Skip to main content

WikiLeaks fundraiser didn't break law, Visa told

The company charged by credit card provider Visa with investigating WikiLeaks' finances says it has found no proof that the whistle-blower broke the law.

Visa stopped processing donations (opens in new tab) to the whistle-blowing site in December, while it investigated "the nature of its business and whether it contravenes Visa operating rules"

According to a document obtained by news agency Associated Press, Norway-based financial service provider Teller AS, the company that processed the donations, has told the credit card company it found no evidence of wrongdoing by WikiLeaks' fundraising arm, Sunshine Press.

"Our lawyers have now completed their work and have found no indications that Sunshine Press ... acted in contravention of Visa's rules or Icelandic legislation," Teller's chief executive Peter Wiren reported in a letter late last month.

Teller confirmed the authenticity of the two-page document on Wednesday. The letter stated that Teller was ready to resume processing payments to WikiLeaks - but only if Visa gave the go-ahead.

Visa Europe says it will continue to block donations to WikiLeaks, pending the results of its own internal investigation. Company spokeswoman Amanda Kamin yesterday refused to say when Visa's probe, now in its eighth week, would be completed.

Visa is one of a number of US businesses, including MasterCard, Amazon and PayPal, that came under intense pressure to cut ties with the whistle-blowing site after it began publishing a stash of more than 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables (opens in new tab) in late November.

The comapnies' decision to suspend services to WikiLeaks has been widely condemned as politically motivated, triggering a string of DoS attacks (opens in new tab) by members of loose-knit "online living consciousness" Anonymous, under the banner 'Operation Payback'.

WikiLeaks has been particularly hard hit by the squeeze on its finances as its founder, 39-year-old Julian Assange, who is currently fighting an attempt to extradite him to Sweden for questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct. Assange's personal assets were frozen by Swiss bank PostFinance (opens in new tab) in December.

Speaking from the home of his friend Vaughan Smith, where he has spent most of the last month under virtual house arrest, Assange told the UK's Sunday Times newspaper that financial pressures had forced him into signing a publishing deal worth an estimated £1 million..

"I don't want to write this book, but I have to. I have already spent £200,000 for legal costs and I need to defend myself and to keep WikiLeaks afloat," Assange said.

Assange is due to appear at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in south-east London for an extradition hearing on 7-8th February. monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.