Financial blockage of Wikileaks is an ‘economic death sentence’ that has cost £30million, says Julian Assange

Blockade set up by right wing politicians in America is seriously damaging Wikileaks’ funding

WikiLeaks has missed out on around £30million in donations from supporters because of a financial blockade set up by right wing politicians in America, the organisation’s founder Julian Assange has claimed.

Speaking at a rare press conference held inside the Ecuadorean embassy, where he sought asylum nearly six months ago, Mr Assange said that war crimes were remaining secret because of the lack of resources at WikiLeaks.

Mr Assange insisted that WikiLeaks was able to survive but he said the blockade, which sees Visa, Mastercard and other companies refuse to process donations to the organisation, “means we have to reduce our publications. We cannot expose war crimes and other forms of abuse”.

He added that WikiLeaks staff, who he said numbered fewer than one hundred and were based in “most large countries” have taken a 40 per cent pay cut and that he himself has taken no wage from the organisation recently. WikiLeaks, he said, is surviving on the contributions of volunteers.

But he would not release any new details about his stay in the embassy. Appearing in a dark suit and white shirt in a conference room in the Ecuadorean embassy this afternoon, Mr Assange looked in good health. He even joked that he was unsure where he could go as a fire alarm sounded at the end of the press briefing. Police officers remain outside the embassy waiting to arrest Mr Assange if he steps beyond its threshold.

He was reluctant, however, to be drawn when asked by reporters how he was finding his stay in the embassy, where is being protected from attempts to extradite him to Sweden over sexual assault allegations.

He said he was grateful to the Ecuadorian embassy for “protecting” him and over the granting of political asylum. He said: “My stay here in the Ecuador Embassy, while difficult in many ways, at least I am able to continue my work to some degree.”

And he added that his belief that WikiLeaks could be at least 20 times bigger if it was not for the economic blockade. He was speaking after the European Commission indicated it was unlikely to investigate a complaint by a company which collects donations for WikiLeaks.

DataCell has alleged that a refusal by Visa, Mastercard and other companies – which it claims control 97 per cent of the European electronic payments market - to refuse to handle donations to WikiLeaks is anticompetitive. But the European Commission has said it believes the companies are unlikely to have broken any European laws.

Mr Assange said: “We have been living with this banking blockade for two years. The situation is financially difficult, but there is no danger that WikiLeaks will cease as an organisation.”

The blockade had wiped out 95 per cent of WikiLeaks’ revenues but he insisted that the organisation remained “popular”. He said: “five per cent of a lot of people is still a lot of people”.

Today’s development followed a preliminary decision by the commission, with a final decision expected in the next few weeks.

Mr Assange said the documents published by WikiLeaks today showed that “hard-right” politicians in the United States were directly behind the banking blockade.

Exercising a “financial death penalty” over organisations involved in political controversy set a bad precedent for media and other groups around the world, he said. “There is no dispute that this blockade is a political reaction to our publications.”

Mr Assange added that the EC had been deliberating over the issue for 15 months, almost four times longer than normal. WikiLeaks and DataCell have now submitted counter arguments to the commission's preliminary decision.

Both Visa and Mastercard refused to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Sport
bottom
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Regional Gas Installation Manager - South East England

£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer - South East

£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Manager - Alconbury

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee