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article imageWikileaks to sue Visa and Mastercard over 'financial blockade' Special

By Graeme McNaughton     Jul 4, 2011 in World
Wikileaks, the site behind last year's infamous American diplomatic cables leak, is suing credit card companies Visa and Mastercard for blocking donations to the website.
In a press release put out via the site's Twitter account, Wikileaks is accusing the credit card giants of "engaging in an unlawful, U.S. influenced, financial blockade."
The two companies were notified in early June by Danish law firm Bender von Haller Dragested and Icelandic Reykjavik Law Firm that if the blockade was not removed, the companies faced litigation in Denmark. A request for prosecution has also been filed with the EU Commission.
Wikileaks, along with service provider Datacell, say that the move to block payments to the website is against the law:
"It was pointed out to these companies that their coordinated action on December 7th last year to block all credit card transactions to WikiLeaks and Datacell constituted a serious violation of the Competition Rules of the EU (Article 101(1) and 102). Furthermore, that the actions of these companies have violated Danish merchant laws when they terminated the payment services and by refused to reinstate them."
According to the release, Visa and Mastercard have not shown any willingness to negotiate.
Speaking to Digital Journal, Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, a lawyer for Datacell, says that the decision to launch litigation came from Sunshine Press Productions, a private limited company established in Iceland, to raise funds and gather information.
"[Wikileaks founder] Mr. [Julian] Assange and [Wikileaks spokesperson] Mr. [Kristinn] Hrafnsson have been the contact persons on behalf of the WikiLeaks project, and the company taking care of it's financial matters and publications [has been] Sunshine Press Productions.
"Whether Mr. Assange and Mr. Hranfsson consult with a larger group I don't know, but the assignment is given formally to me and the Reykjavik Law Firm by board members of SSP."
This legal action is in response to last year's move by Visa and Mastercard to block payments and donations to Wikileaks.
Mastercard told CNet that "rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal."
As to why the legal action has taken over six months, Sveinsson said:
"My clients had shown the card companies much patience in responding to their claims. Everything has it's time. The legal actions have been prepared well and good things happens slowly."
Sveinsson also said they have heard from Visa's lawyers, and have been told to "expect reaction this week."
The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is currently in England. In an appeal hearing scheduled for later this month, Assange will learn whether he will be extradited to Sweden to face charges of sexual assault.
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