PayPal cuts service to group supporting Bradley Manning: report
Update: Hours after Courage to Resist took their case against PayPal to their website, over 10,000 people signed a petition criticizing the online payments firm for their decision.
The account was reinstated a short time thereafter.
“Thank you to all of our supporters – many of whom contacted PayPal individually or signed the petition hosted by Firedoglake – who helped us restore our account,” group spokesman Jeff Paterson wrote.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone who raised their voice today. While PayPal was never a primary channel for our online donors, it is especially valuable to our international supporters who do not use US-based credit cards or checks. I hope you will now help us get back to our real work in support of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning.”
An original report follows…
Online payment provider PayPal has apparently frozen the account of Courage to Resist, a group raising funds to support US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, the whistleblower accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks.
The group said Thursday in a media advisory that PayPal recently chose to freeze its account — created in 2006 — after it began soliciting donations to support Manning. The 23-year-old, arrested in May, could face charges of espionage or treason.
He is currently being held in solitary confinement in a Virginia maximum security prison, where he sits alone in a cell for 23 out of 24 hours each day, according to Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald.
PayPal did not immediately return a request for comment.
According to Courage to Resist, the “Bradley Manning Defense Fund” — run in collaboration with the Bradley Manning Support Network — has raised a total of $176,250 from 2,801 individuals, and an additional $60,640 for Manning’s legal trust account.
“We’ve been in discussions with PayPal for weeks, and by their own admission there’s no legal obligation for them to close down our account,” said Loraine Reitman of the Bradley Manning Support Network. “This was an internal policy decision by PayPal.”
The group said PayPal declined to provide documentation of its policies regarding the matter.
The decision appears to be part of a broader PayPal strategy to disassociate its services from WikiLeaks — the online provider announced in December that it would no longer process donations to the anti-secrecy group and froze its account.
“While there may be no legal obligation [for PayPal] to provide services, there is an ethical obligation. By shutting out legitimate nonprofit activity, PayPal shows itself to be morally bankrupt,” said Jeff Paterson of the Bradley Manning Support Network.
Visa and Mastercard also cut off payments to WikiLeaks in December, but continue to process donations to Courage to Resist, which are to be used for “legal defense expenses, public awareness efforts, and minimal administrative costs” on Manning’s behalf.
Stephen C. Webster contributed to this report.