The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is dismayed by reports that companies are being leaned on to discontinue financial and internet services for WikiLeaks, a secrets website in the process of releasing more than 250,000 US State Department cables.
"I am concerned about reports of pressure exerted on private companies including banks, credit card companies and internet service providers to close down credit lines for donations to WikiLeaks as well as to stop hosting the website or its meta sites," Navi Pillay said on Thursday, the eve of International Human Rights Day.
Earlier in the week, Internet payment leader PayPal froze a WikiLeaks-linked account containing over $60,000. PayPal VP of platform Osama Bedier said that the US State Department had notified them that WikiLeaks activities were illegal.
Bedier later clarified that the State Department had not talked to them directly.
On Monday, Swiss Bank PostFinance also froze a WikiLeaks account after they said founder Julian Assange had given them false information.
MasterCard and Visa followed suit Tuesday by saying they would stop processing credit card donations and suspend payments to WikiLeaks.
"While it's unclear if these individual measures taken against private actors directly infringe on states' human rights obligation to show respect of the right to freedom of expression, taken as a whole, they could be interpreted as an attempt to censor the publication of information thus violating WikiLeaks' right to freedom of expression," Pillay said Thursday.
"Hactivists" have taken down websites of organizations acting against the secrets website. Distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks were launched against MasterCard, Visa, PayPal and PostFinance by the hacker group "Anonymous."
"This is truly what media would call a cyber war. It's just astonishing what is happening," Pillay added.
This video was uploaded to YouTube Dec. 10, 2010.