back to article Financial vice tightens on Wikileaks, hacktivistas retaliate

The financial squeeze has been put onto Wikileaks, with MasterCard refusing to process donations to the whistleblower site and the suspension of the personal bank account of founder Julian Assange in Switzerland. The withdrawal of payment facilities by MasterCard follows a similar decision by PayPal. Would-be supporters are …


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  1. Dave 15

    Anyone surprised?

    The problem with wikileaks is that it is anti establishment.

    Smear the founders name (the timing of these sex abuse allegations was not a shock)

    Stop the finances

    Withdraw passport

    Arrest the guy

    Eventually he will be deported to Guantanamo...

    And all this by a collection of countries (USA, UK, Sweden, Australia) who apparently stand up for free speach, freedom, democracy....

    Yeah, at least the North Koreans, Chinese and Stalin were honest! (Note Stalin declined to join an anti-Britain pact with America in WW2).

    The real crime here? The real crime here was to expose the double standards, lies and backstabbing deals that are normal in 'democracy'

    I now await the inevitable visit from the British thugs (sorry police)...

    1. blackworx
      Thumb Down

      Take aim, shoot own argument in foot

      Stalin != honest. He may have been honest about some things, but the thing with honesty, as with silence, is that it is an absolute.

      Pity, as I agree with the rest (except the paranoiac final paragraph).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        The fact he is paranoic

        doesn't necessarily mean they will not be after him.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I think of it more

          as a premonition of a time when it's supposed champions decide democracy was a nice idea but in practice unworkable and naive. Say, by 2020.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Shoot the messenger

      It certainly does not surprise me that there are anti-establishment quarters around the world when the authorities (including those who purport to be "free") clamp down on anything they do not like to see happening. Suppressing non-followers of a regime do not work and merely foments unrest and disquiet - better to let these people have their say and let the rest decide in an informed manner.

      Trying to suppress Wikileaks and punish Julian Assange is pointless. The material is now available on BitTorrent and peer-to-peer networks. Trying to suppress the material is like the music industry trying to stop pirating - Impossible!

      So well done the US government and all governments in support of them - you have succeeded in uniting a whole bunch of disparate anti-establishment groups and made Assange and Wikileaks iconic figures, all working against the establishment.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I am suprised

      They took the piss.

      Now they are suffering for it.

      nuff said.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @double standards, lies and backstabbing deals that are normal in 'democracy'

      Yeah, I've long thought of it - in all of the above mentioned countries - as:

      "Government of the people, by the hypocrites, for the hypocrites"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good one MasterCard

    Having now released a terrorist target list the sooner this site is closed down the better.

    1. Roger Varley

      Good one MasterCard

      Terrorist Target List? Have you read the relevant document? Which one(s) are particularly suprising and couldn't have been found any other way? Why is there what appears to be an innate assumption that your average terrorist is a retarded moron who requires everything spelled out for him/her and that they're incapable of doing their own research?

      1. Sean O'Connor 1


        Yes, but what benefit is there in publishing that list on Wikileaks? It's not as if it's some government secret that they're hiding from us, it's a list of stuff that they'd like to keep safe for us. I could support Wikileaks if they were publishing stuff that governments were lying to us about but not stuff like this or private comments by US ambassadors to their own bosses back home. He's gone too far here and lost the plot.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Ah...but the ante has been upped

          This isn't just about the USs lies and poor security any more. This leak could be a warning of what is to come if the US don't back down.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Terrorist Research

        But there is no reason to make it easy for them. Finally even the register recognizes that Wikileaks is just a mercenary espionage outfit. Why keep defending this crowd of opportunists?

        1. Tom 35
          Thumb Down

          Terrorist Research?

          The only way it would be useful to a terrorist would be as a list of places best avoided as too well watched. It's not like a real war where you need to take out a strategic target. Even if an attack fails it can work. Shoe bomb, pants bomb, maybe a two part liquid bomb... didn't go bang but they still worked.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @But there is no reason to make it easy for them.

          Yes there is. I'm not going to tell you what that reason is though because I'm sure the voices will suggest a reason to you soon enough.

      3. I didn't do IT.

        How to make a terrorist

        In order to get Something You Want(tm) from a smaller group:

        * Befriend smaller target group by pointing out how similar you are against A Common Enemy(tm) and how they can only win with your help.

        * Train people in the smaller group how to fight the larger, more powerful group.

        * Provide the smaller group with a stick to poke the larger, more powerful group.

        * Sit back and let them annoy and insult the larger group without your name getting into the papers.

        * Once larger group has decided the smaller group is too much of a waste and leaves, come in and assume the smaller group is now your friend and that they will give up their weird ways and become just like you so they will buy your stuff and pay you using the Something You Want(tm).

        * Act surprised when they tell you to jump off a cliff.

        * Demonize the smaller group by emphasizing the differences, and infer that these make them "bad" to your population.

        * Poke smaller group with stick. Repeat until they wave around the stick you gave them.

        * Poke smaller group with bigger stick.

        * Assist or support other (small/large) groups that are already fighting or more overtly affecting the smaller target group.

        * Poke the smaller group's friends with (bigger) stick.

        * Create documents spelling out like stereo instructions, how you could be "hurt badly". Leave these Plans To Hurt You(tm) laying around anyplace you can think of. Saying they were secret, stolen, and should never be read should ensure widest distribution.

        * Translate documents into other languages, just in case.

        * Where did I put that 2x4 support beam? Poke them, their friends, family, their pet and have your animal rights group condemn them for not protecting the pet better.

        * Encourage others to stop dealing with target smaller group. Force smaller group into economic misery.

        * You did send them the Plans To Hurt You(tm), right?

        * Be VERY surprised when they follow one or more of the Plans To Hurt You(tm). Try to be feeding soup to lepers or reading to orphans when it happens. Bonus points if you are on TV doing this when it happens.

        * Use act to go in and slap them with LOTS of little sticks. Get your friends to join in the fun.

        If you did this right, you get to hang around the smaller group, get the Something You Want(tm), slap them with sticks made in your country (creating jobs!), and try to get other countries to pay for some of it. Win-Win, eh?

        Joke? I am hopeful, but sometimes I wonder...

    2. Just Thinking

      What was the point?

      Can't see the point in publishing that list at all. The US government is going to analyse security vulnerabilities and weaknesses, it benefits everyone that they do, and that it remains secret.

      Other than making the point that pentagon security is full of holes, which is a point which has already been made, this can only do harm.

      1. Red Bren
        Black Helicopters

        Who does it harm most?

        "Can't see the point in publishing that list at all."

        I can. There seems to be three kinds of secret at stake here.

        Things you don't want your enemies to know. Fair enough and I thought wikileaks was careful to redact information that might scupper operations.

        Things you don't want your allies to know. It's highly embarrasing for your friends to find out you've been spying on them, or that you don't rate their capabilities to fight the wars you dragged them into. In the long run it may stop you going round picking fights if you know you won't have a "coalition of the willing" to give a veneer of international support.

        Things you don't want your own people to know. It's funny how evidence of corruption or coercion during decision making gets covered by the national security blanket. Perhaps the risk that Wikileaks might obtain and release the evidence might keep politicians honest?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You didn't think at all.

          If you had, you'd know that the only way you can know which information might scupper a secret operation, is if you are RUNNING the secret operation.

          Someone I know routinely handles classified information, and the one thing that pisses him off the most is when somebody leaks something that is actually classified for good reason and they can't respond to it because it would confirm the leak is accurate. Well that and incompetent people commenting on operations and scuppering them that way.

          1. Red Bren
            Big Brother

            When you claim everything is secret...

   devalue the things that really should be kept secret. Too many "secrets" are really just things that embarrass or discredit those in power. Hiding them amongst genuinely sensitive information is the data equivalent of building your military bases next door to schools and hospitals, then crying, "Won't someone think of the children?!!"

            If sensitive information is released along with incriminating evidence, is it the fault of those trying to expose corruption or the corrupt trying to hide their failings?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Terrorist target list



      Leaders of the above.

      Armies of the above.

      Let's see you campaign for El Reg to be shut down. Come on, we all know it's the only consistent response for you to make.

    4. Simon Redding


      Terrorist target list my arse. I went and looked up my local "terrorist target", which admittedly is a site that could be at risk. However information about it is easily available already on and wikipedia, including a more detailed grid reference than wikileaks gave (they redacted it down to the city name).

    5. Graham Marsden

      @Terrorist Target List

      I watched a fascinating interview on BBC News 24 yesterday after comments from Malcolm Rifkind and Liam Fox condemning the latest "criminal" leaks about "an extensive list of facilities around the world that, according to the latest leaked cables, the US describes as vital to its national security"

      They had the former US Assistant Head of Homeland Security on whose attitude was a lot more relaxed and saying things like "I don't think terrorists are going to attack eg the Port of Rotterdam simply because the US considers it a 'choke point' in transatlantic trade" and commenting that many of these facilities are more of *economic* interest because to swap to alternatives would cost more money.

      Methinks someone doth protest too much!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I think I've worked it out now...

    Anonymous and Assange are shills for the RIAA. The idea is to make internet anonymity unacceptable to governments and public, at which point the RIAA will really be able to clamp down on illegal file sharing...

    1. blackworx
      Thumb Up


      The phrase "This is why we can't have nice things!" has popped into my head more than a few time as this debacle has continued to unfold.

  4. irish donkey
    Black Helicopters

    Be careful of fake Wikileaks sites and supposed torrents of diplomatic cables


    I would imagine a few governments are seeding malware loaded deliverables just to see who is reading what they shouldn't be reading.

    If Paypal has frozen Julian's account does that mean that he won't get the money I sent him and judging by the fact that I haven't seen any refund neither will I.

    Eh the fight on terrorism always seems to make money for the MAN. Funny that...

    no point in being anon as they have my Paypal details. So will Paypal protect my privacy?

    Oh black helicoptor......................Guess not

    1. bobbles31

      Let's be fair

      Paypal finding an excuse to stop paying out funds to someone (whilst still no doubt collecting them) is hardly news. It happens all the time, apparently its not theft, it is good security practise.

    2. Simon Redding

      PayPal give me my money back

      24 hours to clarify what "transaction completed" means really and who has the funds I remitted to Wau Holland Foundation (long live CCC), or the small claims court is coming your way.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      stay out of big boy's games

      "I would imagine a few governments are seeding malware loaded deliverables just to see who is reading what they shouldn't be reading."

      If you don't know enough about your own computing platform or about how platforms work in general to be able to handle what you download without having confidence that you won't be executing it rather than just reading it, then you really shouldn't be playing this game. Leave untrusted downloadable content to the grownups.

  5. nigel 15

    hi res images

    there are some really nice high res images in the postfinance downloads section

    worth a look.

  6. nigel 15

    freedom of information

    it is almost sickening that the US keeps banging on to China and the like about freedom of speech and a freedom of information.

    soon as the US doesn't like that information freedom goes out the window.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Oh, so you DID trust a government ?

      Poor you!

  7. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Swiss banks

    Oops. Given the number of Swiss banks dumped in the shit by Wikileaks (Julius Baer for one) and their general attitude to secrecy, perhaps using a Swiss account opened with details easily proved false wasn't such a sharp idea.

    The irony is if he'd opened an account with the Halifax in Milton Keynes instead he'd still have access to his money. Perhaps he was too busy secretively changing hotel rooms every night to think this through.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Cryptome and Wikileaks

    When was the last time anything of value was posted on Cryptome?

    - quote -

    Young said that he thought that Wikileaks was supposed to be a public interest group, but as soon as I heard that, I know that "they were a criminal organisation."

    His attacks on Julian Assange are particularly nasty and personal. Claiming that he is a "narcissistic personality, he said he craves attention and will do about anything to get it.

    - unquote

  9. nigel 15

    PostFinance statement clearly expresses a moral judgement

    All the information i have read on this indicates that the reasons for dumping WikiLeaks are purely contractual. but their own press statement makes is clear that it is a moral judgement

    It seems under swiss law they have an obligation to continue the contract that they agreed. regardless of any problems with the details supplied prior to that contract being agreed. they are using what could be termed a loop hole to say that the wikileaks runs 'contrary to public and moral opinion.' Which is an odd judgement for a swiss bank to make. clearly they have been leant on.

    Charge a man with a crime and cut off his money and therefore his ability to defend himself. you couldn't make it up.

    read the second paragraph:

    PostFinance has ended its business relationship with Wikileaks founder Julian Paul Assange. The Australian citizen provided false information regarding his place of residence during the account opening process. Assange entered Geneva as his domicile. Upon inspection, this information was found to be incorrect. Assange cannot provide proof of residence in Switzerland and thus does not meet the criteria for a customer relationship with PostFinance. For this reason, PostFinance is entitled to close his account. If there is any indication that the information provided by an account holder may not comply with the detailed valid provisions, PostFinance investigates the circumstances in detail and draws the appropriate conclusions.

    Obligation to contract does not apply

    On 22 July 2010, the Swiss Federal Court ruled that PostFinance was obliged to offer all interested parties an account for payment transactions and to continue any existing accounts as part of its basic service mandate (obligation to contract). Termination of an account relationship (or refusal to enter into such a relationship) is, therefore, only possible for compelling reasons. The Swiss Federal Court did not define what constitutes a compelling reason. The Council of States responded to the judgment and incorporated a provision to this effect into the Postal Act on 30 November 2010. This gives PostFinance the option of terminating business relationships which run contrary to public and moral opinion. Approval from the National Council is yet to be granted. Finally, approval is required from the two chambers of parliament on the postal legislation under debate. PostFinance is in favour of transparent regulations which support the interests of Switzerland as a respectable financial centre and the endeavours of the Swiss financial sector.

    1. Olivreghw

      what a joke...

      So here we have one of those swiss banks that shelter money for the bad guys like the mafia, african dictators, war criminals, cybercrooks, corrupt business, citizens looking for tax evasion etc...

      And this bank is morally shocked by wikileaks and closes its accounts ?? If I was one of those bad guy having an account in Switzerland I would get scared (or not... as wikileaks had some problems before with leaks from Switzerland we can maybe look at it as a retribution...).

      Same for PayPal.

      What a wonderful hypocrit world.

  10. Remy Redert

    @Roger Varley

    Any terrorist smart enough to pull off a serious attack is smart enough to figure out the best targets and to pull off the attack without offing himself so he can do multiple attacks.

    Any terrorist that needs that list to pick a good target is probably just going to use a car full of petrol bags or try to make an attack by setting their car on fire and driving it into a support pillar.

  11. blackworx

    I blame

    The snow

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even the red faces are Kabuki theater.

      Governments read each others mail. That's what governments do to protect their people. After reading the other guys mail, it doesn't do any good not to pass it along to the people who can utilize it to advance their position. So everybody already knows everybody else dirt from "diplomatic communiques."

      Which means the only effect of publishing the leaks is to cause disruptions. And the only places where those disruptions are occurring, are in the very places where you unlikely to be summarily shot for publishing them.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Is Pantegral getting restless yet?

    Flashmobs with guns, yay.


  14. Simon Redding

    Now VISA joins the sheep

    Funny how google searches for "wikileaks" don't match any documents but "wikileaks visa" returns loads of news sites showing that VISA, MASTERCARD and PAYPAL have all withdrawn payment facilities.

    Who's next? Western Union? MoneyGram?

    Time to ask if we should be concerned about government control of financial duopolies like Visa/Mastercard...

  15. Ralph B
    Black Helicopters


    The BBC claim that Visa have blocked donations, TheReg says Mastercard, but the Datacell donations website still seems to be accepting both types.

    Anyone would think there was some sort of conspiracy going on.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    I want my paper! (news and money)

    Will Visa/MC also stop payments to the Guardian and other news papers who published the cables?

    If the card companies startXXXXcontinue to block payments to various organisations without proper due legal process we better think twice before we abolish cash.

  17. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Bad move MasterCard

    If someone chooses to give their money to Wikileaks then ITS THEIR MONEY, SO THEIR CHOICE!. MasterCard don't own people's money and can't tell us all what we can and can't spend our money on!

    MasterCard (and PayPal) have stepped way beyond a service into directly dictating what people can do. That's a shocking move, as it sets such a bad precedent. The MasterCard Corporation are now dictating to us the way governments do. (Same with the Swiss post office and PayPal).

    MasterCard and all these companies are highlighting how they are all part of the systems of control that have grown up around us.

    Yet the more they hit out at Wikileaks, the more people are seeing how the control freak bastards in power are abusing their power and as a result making this a worse world to live in, not better for everyone the governments are supposed to represent.

    1. LaeMing


      My last replied-paid envelope from MC trying to sell me debt went out in the recycle collection yesterday morning. But there will be more, and if future I will be posting them all back. Empty.

      The only downside is that this puts money into the hands of those parcel-mangling numpties at Australia Post. Though I guess supporting incompetence is better than supporting malice.

    2. Daniel Garcia 2

      what really piss me off

      it's that they are taking those measures and calling criminal to wikileaks, without a court order/sentence, just because some primate politicians have some opinions.

      basically no court order are need to you be economically killed, only the will of the big companies to bend to the MAN.

    3. JC 2

      @ Bad Move MasterCard

      Wrong! While it is your money and you can give it to anyone you want to, you can't compel a 3rd party to deliver it for you if they don't want to.

      Neither mastercard or paypal are telling you to do or not do anything. You are free to do as you wish just as they are!

      As for the rest of your argument, I can't hear you because your tin foil hat is pulled down too far. Wikileaks deserves what happened, they banked on paranoid people idealizing their stated mission instead of looking logically at what, when, and why they release documents.

      Take the latest prime targets cable releases for example, what good interest does that serve? None, it's just a desperate attempt for Wikileaks to get a little more attention before they have to jump ship.

  18. Colin Millar
    Thumb Down

    Dumbing down par excellence

    The herd instincts of teh interwebs are settling into a nice cycle as people rush about after their false prophets. Within a decade it should be about as discredited as the mainstream media.

    And now we make heroes out of 'Anonymous' the online lynch mob. They are not 'activists' - they are the web version of the Ku Klux Klan - judge jury and executioner for anything that doesn't conform to their norm.

  19. Steen Larsen

    I have just closed my Paypal account

    "We are sorry that you have decided to close your PayPal account. With millions of members in dozens of countries and regions across the globe, PayPal is continually improving and expanding its award-winning services."

    Living without Paypal is easy, a relief actually :-) But living without Visa is another story. However, I have a few cards which I do not really use and closing them now is a good time to send a message.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Terrorist attacks

    Terrorists are not interested in disrupting trade and attacking major US interests.

    They are interested in creating fear.

    If I was a terrorist, I would attack somewhere totally unexpected. I would blow up a random train during peak time, or set off a bomb at a football match.

    The problem with the US attacking the release of this "key targets" list is that they are thinking like a country at war with another country. It is probably the reason why they fail to grasp that the nature of the problem is entirely different. Terrorists couldn't give a hoot for target lists. They are perfectly capable of choosing their own targets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      "They are perfectly capable of choosing their own targets."

      Funny that the wealthy oligarchs are never targeted, isn't it?

      Always blowing up commuter trains and office buildings. Wouldn't want anyone important to get hurt.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    What was it Morpheous said again?

    "MasterCard and all these companies are highlighting how they are all part of the systems of control that have grown up around us."

    Something about it being there when you pay your bills... your taxes.

  22. Goat Jam

    Closed my Paypal account too

    and told them why.

    It won't be missed.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wikileaks been around for a long time. Nothing in the documents i've seen are anymore interesting to me then looking at miley cyrus pictures.

    Mastercard and Visa had/have no right making these decisions unless he is found guilty of wrongdoing.

    He's in jail for counts unrelated to wikileaks because it's a clown court system.

    Visa purchased in the last years. Visa also had no right making that purchase since is the most well known and used payment gateway for internet merchants.

    What gives a card 'brand' the ability to purchase such a sector of the industry?

    Conflict of interest? Mega-Monopoly?

    You might not be on the side of Wikileaks, but understand that if the governments of this world don't like what your doing; without trial, they will attempt to ruin you.

    Unfortunately for them we are wikileaks.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Master Card....

    Ummmm damn.... my bank (run by idiots who do not include transfer information on spreadsheets) has provided, as part of their employment by me, a card with a "master card" stamp in the corner.

    Since I can't stick it up their arse, I will crumb it into confetti and post it back to them.

    After establish an account at a place where the staff are in small numbers and they individually all know the operations of the entire system and I close my account with this stupid bank. filled with dickless drones who can't find or fund the hole in their own arse's with out asking a supervisor, who asks a manager, who asks the tech support who asks the losers on the front line.....

    QED. Fuck Mastercard.

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