2012-11-20 European Parliament votes to protect WikiLeaks

In a landmark decision today the European Parliament initiated the drafting of legislation that would stop the arbitrary banking blockades against WikiLeaks and other organizations facing economic censorship. This is an important signal from the European lawmakers. It is a recognition of the seriousness of the precedents set in December 2010, still in force, when Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union and Bank of America launched a unilateral, extrajudicial banking blockade against donations to WikiLeaks.

The blockade has cost the organization more than US$50 million. The US Treasury formally found last year that there is no lawful reason why WikiLeaks should be placed on the US embargo list, but the highly political blockade continues. WikiLeaks welcomes the support of MEPs on this important issue and agrees with the European Parliament, which "considers it likely that there will be a growing number of European companies whose activities are effectively dependent on being able to accept payments by card; [and] considers it to be in the public interest to define objective rules describing the circumstances and procedures under which card payment schemes may unilaterally refuse acceptance."

This underlines the claim by WikiLeaks that if the financial blockade against WikiLeaks is not stopped, US financial giants will be free to unilaterally decide which European companies and organizations live or die. As WikiLeaks has previously pointed out, this is an attack on fundamental rights that cannot be left unchallenged. The organization has already launched lawsuits in two European jurisdictions and is awaiting the final outcome in its complaint to the European Commission against the major credit card companies for violations of competition laws. The Commission's decision is expected before the end of the year. WikiLeaks has been victorious in all court hearings about this issue to date.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: "I welcome this response from EU lawmakers. European independence is important. But there is no sovereignty without economic sovereignty. Politicized US financial monopolies must not be able to censor European organizations with impunity."

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