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article imageHow WikiLeaks' Julian Assange raises money for Snowden, and more

By Eko Armunanto     Jul 10, 2013 in World
WikiLeaks raised nearly $90,000 in 2012, with about $1,300 coming in each day since it took Snowden under its wing, from people around the world, some of whom give just a few dollars to do their part in making the world a more transparent place.
Snowden sympathizers have been donating generously since WikiLeaks decided to take on the NSA leaker’s case — and it desperately needs every dollar it can raise to stay in the black and pay for the legal fees and living costs of Assange and now Snowden.
Nearly out of cash, WikiLeaks announced last year that it has found a loophole that will allow it to circumvent a donations blockade imposed by Visa and MasterCard. WikiLeaks’ operating budget was $510,197 in 2012, which is serious money, considering it is a simple .org with a staff of three paid software developers.
WikiLeaks advises all global supporters to make use of this avenue immediately before Visa/MasterCard attempts to shut it down, says CNN Money. Visa and MasterCard were among a handful of U.S. firms, under government pressure, to cut off their processing of WikiLeaks donations soon after the site began publishing State Department cables at the end of 2010. In addition to Assange and Snowden, the group is helping to raise money for Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of passing classified government documents to WikiLeaks.
Concerning legal cost of Snowden’s case, Forbes says it’s not yet clear that Snowden won’t have to pay for lawyers or if he does pay, how the legal fees will be treated. There’s even debate whether Snowden is a bona fide whistleblower. However, fortunately, Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) has begun raising money for the legal defense of Edward Snowden, as published in ABC News. The committee said that because whistleblower cases are extremely expensive to litigate, they would raise money to pay Snowden’s legal fees. The problem is, however, that he may not be a whistleblower since the NSA programs may be legal and authorized by Congress under the Patriot Act.
The Daily Beast said that for an organization banned by Visa, PayPal, Western Union, Bank of America, and MasterCard from collecting donations directly, backing has meant bringing in money through a variety of channels. It says the main artery funneling WikiLeaks’ donations through cyberspace is Wau Holland, a Berlin-based hacker organization that manages WikiLeaks’ finances.
The Wau Holland Foundation was created in 2001 by members of the German Chaos Computer Club, one of the world’s oldest hacker groups, and started official operations in 2003. That was three years before WikiLeaks was founded, but even then Julian Assange was in contact with the foundation’s members, said Bernd Fix, a founding member of Wau Holland, as cited by The Beast.
“Julian is still a hacker, and hackers do know each other. We decided in 2009 that WikiLeaks was a good thing, so we made it our project to collect donations to support WikiLeaks,” said Bernd Fix. Finding out how much money Wau Holland has raised on behalf of WikiLeaks is easy, but finding out who donated that money is less so. “We don’t know who these people are. We are not the NSA, you know. People can donate anonymously,” Bernd Fix said.
The PCCC, on the other hand, claims itself as a vocal source of support for other high-profile leakers like Bradley Manning, who was charged with releasing tomes of sensitive U.S. diplomatic information to the website Wikileaks. It was unclear whether Snowden has retained legal representation, but a spokesman for PCCC said that once an official defense fund is set up the group would transfer over any funds raised on Snowden’s behalf.
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