The founder of whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks says the US government is involved in a campaign of “financial warfare” against the group.
The Guardian has obtained correspondence between WikiLeaks and British-based online payment company Moneybookers, in which the company explains that it has “terminated the business relationship” with WikiLeaks because the Web site has been added to “blacklists in Australia and watchlists in the USA.”
The Guardian reports:
The apparent blacklisting came a few days after the Pentagon publicly expressed its anger at WikiLeaks and its founder, Australian citizen Julian Assange, for obtaining thousands of classified military documents about the war in Afghanistan, in one of the US army’s biggest leaks of information. The documents caused a sensation when they were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and German magazine Der Spiegel, revealing hitherto unreported civilian casualties.
WikiLeaks defied Pentagon calls to return the war logs and destroy all copies. Instead, it has been reported that it intends to release an even larger cache of military documents, disclosing other abuses in Iraq.
“This is likely to cause a huge backlash against Moneybookers,” Assange told the Guardian. “Craven behavior in relation to the US government is unlikely to be seen sympathetically.”
Assange has previously said that Wikileaks is facing a fierce onslaught from the Pentagon after releasing tens of thousands of classified US military documents on the Afghan war.
“I need to express the seriousness of the attack against this media organization,” he told an audience in London.
“The Pentagon has demanded … that we destroy, totally destroy, our previous publications, including that Afghan publication. … The Pentagon is trying to get up an espionage case and destroy our organization,” the Australian former computer hacker added.
Although the White House has stayed relatively quiet on the WikiLeaks issue, the administration’s new director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said last week that President Obama is full of “angst” over a “hemorrhage” of leaks of sensitive intelligence from government officials.
Citing the WikiLeaks release, Clapper said that intelligence agencies would have to be more restrained about sharing information as a result.
“I was in a meeting yesterday with the president, and I was ashamed to have to sit there and listen to the president express his great angst about the leaking that’s going on here in this town,” Clapper said at a Washington conference on intelligence reform.
“And particularly when it’s widely quoted amorphous, anonymous senior intelligence officials, who for whatever reason get their jollies from blabbing to the media,” he said.
Clapper said he was not finding fault with reporters but with government officials “who have supposedly taken an oath to protect this country.”
WikiLeaks has not identified the source of the documents it obtained but suspicion has fallen on Bradley Manning, a US Army intelligence analyst who is currently in military custody.
Manning was arrested in May following the release by WikiLeaks of video footage of a US Apache helicopter strike in Iraq in which civilians died and has been charged with delivering defense information to an unauthorized source.
— With reports from AFP