WIKILEAKS has so far survived court cases against Julian Assange, accusations of destructive behaviour and disciplinary action against some of its sources. But those determined to shut it down may have found another way. The whistleblower organisation has said it might have to wind up operations by the end of the year due to lack of funding caused by the refusal of some financial services providers to process donations to the organisation. Given the reach of some of these companies, such as PayPal, Visa, MasterCard and Bank of America, the impact has been dramatic; WikiLeaks claims that the 100,000 euros it was receiving per month before the blockade have dwindled to 6,000 to 7,000 euros. Apparently, the restrictions were put in place just days after American diplomatic cables were first released last November and the US government objected to their publication, giving rise to suspicions that those who have blocked transactions have done so under pressure from the American government.
Comments from some of the companies involved suggest fears that continuing to process donations would open them up to accusations of facilitating illegal behaviour. But while it would be understandable for the US government to pursue action against employees who breached confidentiality agreements to release documents to WikiLeaks, action against the whistleblower itself is unwarranted. The organisation has signed no such pledges and has simply made available to the world important facts about some crucial and controversial events, including the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. It has also exposed the hypocrisies and motivations of leaders around the world, material that has given citizens an inside glimpse into the gap between what their politicians tell them in public and what really goes on behind closed doors. The magnitude of these deceptions has shown how important it is to unearth the truth about governments and the limits of traditional investigative reporting. WikiLeaks is the rare organisation bold enough to publish information that disillusioned citizens are willing to bring forth, and the financial institutions concerned should not discriminate against it on the basis of uncertain legal fears.