PayPal says it blocked WikiLeaks after U.S. government request

December 8th, 2010 - 9:04 pm ICT by BNO News  

PARIS (BNO NEWS) — E-commerce business PayPal blocked WikiLeaks payments and froze its account last week after a warning from the U.S. government, TechCrunch reported on Wednesday.

PayPal’s Vice President of Platform, Osama Bedier, was taking part of the Le Web 2010 conference in Paris on Wednesday where he answered a question about PayPal’s decision last week to block payments for the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.

Bedier said the U.S. State Department had told PayPal that WikiLeaks was involved in illegal activities. “It was straightforward,” Bedier told the audience, according to TechCrunch.

Last Friday, PayPal announced its decision to close WikiLeaks’ account. “PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity,” the company said in a brief statement.

“We first comply with regulations around the world making sure that we protect our brand,” Bedier added, without detailing which exact U.S. laws WikiLeaks is breaking by using PayPal to collect funds.

WikiLeaks has been making headlines around the world this year since it released a classified video on April 5 which showed a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq which left several civilians killed, including two unarmed Reuters journalists.

Later, in July, WikiLeaks released the so-called ‘Afghan War Diary’, more than 92,000 documents with sensitive details about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. It was one of the largest leaks in the history of the U.S. military, but also exposed the names of Afghans who have provided information to NATO. The Taliban pledged to kill those informants, although no such violence was ever reported.

Then, in late October, WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 U.S. Army field reports of the Iraq War between 2004 and 2009. It led to several revelations, including new reports of civilian deaths. It was the biggest leak in U.S. military history.

But especially its latest release has been sending shock waves around the globe since WikiLeaks began releasing some of the 251,287 U.S. diplomatic cables it claims to have. As of Wednesday, however, only 1,060 cables have been released.

But in recent days, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s personal life has begun to overshadow the release of the documents amid rape allegations in Sweden. On Tuesday, Assange was arrested by British police on a European arrest warrant.

But others have questioned the motives of Swedish authorities to issue the arrest warrant, saying it is an attempt to destroy Assange’s image and to put him behind bars. Assange himself has also denied the accusations on multiple occasions, although he admitted to having consensual sex with two women within several days of each other. “The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing,” he said on August 21.

Assange questioned the timing of the charges when speaking with media organizations and said he had been told to expect ‘dirty tricks’ from the Pentagon, including ’sex traps’ to ruin his reputation.

And while few details about the cases have been released by officials, the British newspaper the Daily Mail in late August obtained a copy of the women’s police statements.

The statements showed that the women had met with Assange and both had unprotected sex with him during the course of several days. They later met each other and discovered that they had both slept with him while not using a condom.

After this discovery, the women walked into a police station together to report the events. According to the documents, the women feared that they had received a sexually transmitted disease (STD) from Assange. And especially one of the women was anxious about the possibility of HIV and pregnancy.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks says it will continue to publish secret documents despite the arrest of Assange. “The release of the US Embassy Cables - the biggest leak in history - will still continue,” said WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson.

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