Belfast Telegraph

WikiLeaks payments blocked by US bank

The Bank of America is blocking all payments intended for WikiLeaks, amid speculation that the whistle-blowing site will embarrass the finance industry next year in the same way as it has the US government by leaking thousands of private diplomatic cables.

"Bank of America joins in the actions previously announced by MasterCard, PayPal, Visa Europe and others and will not process transactions of any type that we have reason to believe are intended for WikiLeaks.

"This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."

In response, WikiLeaks called on its supporters to boycott Bank of America, whose shares have suffered from speculation that it could be a target for the site.

"We ask that all people who love freedom close out their accounts at Bank of America," WikiLeaks said on its Twitter profile. "Does your business do business with Bank of America? Our advice is to place your funds somewhere safer."

The site's founder, Julian Assange, said WikiLeaks would continue to release information about the financial services sector in spite of facing "attacks" by banks.

"Over the last four years we have published information from over 120 countries," Mr Assange told reporters outside Ellingham Hall, the English country house where he must remain while released on bail over allegations of sexual offences in Sweden.

"It is our normal business to publish information about banks. We have been attacked primarily not by government ... but in fact by banks: banks from Dubai, banks from Switzerland, banks from the United States, banks from the UK. So yes of course we are continuing to release material about banks."

In an interview last year, Mr Assange reportedly said that WikiLeaks had many files about Bank of America that have not yet been released.

At the same time as facing constraints on its funding sources, WikiLeaks' budget has been tripled this year, amid ongoing cyber attacks and a greater volume of publications.

Bank of America's move could prompt reprisals from Anonymous, the loose group of pro-WikiLeaks online activists. Anonymous disrupted websites belonging to MasterCard and PostFinance, the Swiss bank which has frozen Mr Assange's account, in revenge attacks earlier this month.