WikiLeaks could be bankrupt by end of the year, warns Assange

Whistle-blowing website forced to suspend its operations while it struggles to overcome funding boycott

WikiLeaks has suspended its publication schedule in order to launch a new fundraising drive as founder Julian Assange admitted that his organisation could be bankrupt by the end of the year.

In central London yesterday, the 40-year-old Australian transparency campaigner detailed how the ongoing embargo against the whistle-blowing website by a string of US financial companies has cut donations by 95 per cent.

He said WikiLeaks would now concentrate on raising funds to legally challenge that embargo to stave off the risk of going under. "If WikiLeaks does not find a way to remove this blockade given our current levels of expenditure we will simply not be able to continue by the turn of the new year," he said. "So we have decided to redirect the vast majority of our staff resources into knocking down that blockade."

WikiLeaks has been under a de facto financial embargo since early December, when major US-based payment companies including Mastercard, Visa, PayPal and the Bank of America refused to process donations to the website after it published classified US embassy diplomatic cables.

Mr Assange has accused the companies of bowing to political pressure from Washington. "If this financial attack stands unchallenged, a dangerous, oppressive and undemocratic precedent will have been set, the implications of which go far beyond WikiLeaks and its work," he said. "Any organisation that falls foul of powerful finance companies or their political allies can expect similar extrajudicial action."

The group hopes to bring litigation against financial organisations in the UK, Australia, Denmark and the US. It has long been known that the site has struggled to stay financially afloat and – with the exception of a tranche of documents on Guantanamo earlier this year and the slow drip of embassy cables – has not published any new exposés since December. But this is the first time the organisation has detailed its problems in such a public manner.

In an indication of how WikiLeaks is determined to return to publishing data, Mr Assange also took the opportunity yesterday to announce that its encrypted submissions system, which was destroyed by a disgruntled former volunteer in October last year, will be relaunched next month. "We have had to engineer from scrap a completely new generation submissions system," he said.

Asked whether any of the new donations raised for WikiLeaks would go towards the defence in his ongoing battle against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations, he said: "WikiLeaks collected money has never gone towards the Swedish extradition case which I am subject – a case for which I have not been charged. But that hasn't stopped our opponents spreading deliberate disinformation in order to reduce the amount of donations coming to this organisation. Bizarrely, you can still make PayPal and Visa payments to the Julian Assange defence fund – because that goes towards lawyers – but you cannot make Visa payments and PayPal payments to WikiLeaks because that goes towards publication."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn