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Paypal Shuts Down WikiLeaks Donations Account

December 5, 2010

Online payment service provider PayPal said Friday that it had “permanently restricted” the account used by WikiLeaks to collect online donations, saying the whistleblower Web site is engaged in illegal activity.

“PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity. We’ve notified the account holder of this action,” said PayPal in a posting on its blog.

PayPal, a subsidiary of online marketplace operator Ebay Inc., is one of several channels used by WikiLeaks to receive donations to finance its operations.  The other donation options listed on WikiLeaks’ Web site are through mail to an Australian P.O. box, through bank transfers to accounts in Switzerland, Germany or Iceland, and through a Switzerland-based credit card processing partner. WikiLeaks’ PayPal account now redirects users to a German foundation that provides the organization with the money.

WikiLeaks released thousands of classified U.S. diplomatic cables earlier this week, causing embarrassment in Washington and among other foreign leaders throughout the world.

WikiLeaks confirmed PayPal’s suspension of its account, saying it was the result of U.S. pressure.

“PayPal bans WikiLeaks after U.S. government pressure,” wrote WikiLeaks in a posting on its Twitter page.

The Web site had re-directed readers on Friday to an alternate Web address in Switzerland after two U.S.-based Internet service providers dropped the original site.

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