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article imageWikiLeaks wins Visa contractor case, Valitor must lift blockade

By Anne Sewell     Apr 24, 2013 in World
Iceland's Supreme Court has ruled that Valitor, the Visa contractor, must lift the blockade against payments to WikiLeaks, or pay $204k per month in fines.
Valitor (formerly Visa Iceland) will have to pay WikiLeaks $204,900 per month, or $2,494,604 per year, in fines should the company continue to blockade payments to the whistleblowing site.
The court upheld the decision that Valitor had unlawfully terminated its contract with the WikiLeaks' donation processor, DataCell. The Icelandic Supreme Court is the highest court in Iceland and thus there is no route of appeal for Valitor.
WikiLeaks press statement reads:
"Today's decision marked the most important victory to date against the unlawful and arbitrary economic blockade erected by US companies against WikiLeaks."
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said in a statement from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London:
"This is a victory for free speech. This is a victory against the rise of economic censorship to crack down against journalists and publishers.
"We thank the Icelandic people for showing that they will not be bullied by powerful Washington-backed financial services companies like Visa, and we send out a warning to the other companies involved in this blockade: you're next."
"We hope that the European Commission also acknowledges that the economic blockade against WikiLeaks is an unlawful and arbitrary censorship mechanism that threatens freedom of the press across Europe."
"If it fails to do so, the Commission must be regarded as failing to live up to the founding European principles of economic and political freedom."
The WikiLeaks statement further read:
"Despite the effects of the blockade having crippled WikiLeaks resources, the organization is fighting the blockade on many fronts."
"It is a battle that concerns free speech and the future of the free press, it concerns fundamental civil rights and it is a struggle for the rights of individuals to vote with their wallet and donate to the cause they believe in."
According to WikiLeaks, the financial blockade was imposed after the website published leaks exposing corruption in Iceland during December 2010. These leaks revealed why the country's banking system collapsed in 2008.
In November 2012, the EU Parliament passed a resolution including a a clause drafted specifically in relation to the economic blockade against WikiLeaks. This resolution called on the European Commission to draft regulations to prevent online payment facilitators from arbitrarily denying services to companies or organizations, such as WikiLeaks.
A formal complaint has been launched by WikiLeaks to the European Commission on the basis that Visa and MasterCard have unlawfully abused their dominant market position. With the two credit card companies currently holding 95% of the European market, it remains unclear whether the EU Commission will open a formal investigation into the matter.
Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after successfully gaining political asylum in Ecuador. However, he is wanted for questioning on sexual charges in Sweden and the UK will not grant him safe passage to leave the embassy, as they feel obliged to extradite him to Sweden. The fear remains that should he travel to Stockholm, he would then be sent on to the US on espionage charges for sensitive and embarrassing diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
More about Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Iceland, Visa, valitor
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