On Monday, WikiLeaks, the whistleblower Web site, said it was temporarily stopping publication of classified documents and focusing on survival in the face of funding blockades.
In order to ensure our future survival, WikiLeaks is now forced to temporarily suspend its publishing operations and aggressively fundraise in order to fight back against this blockade and its proponents, said founder Julian Assange, speaking at a news conference at the Frontline Club in London. He added that an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade since last December has destroyed 95 percent of our revenue.
If WikiLeaks does not find a way to remove this blockade, given our current levels of expenditure, we will simply not be able to continue by the turn of the New Year, he stated.
According to Assange, WikiLeaks is expected to need $3.5 million over the next year to continue operating. He said the site had about 20 staff members, 800 volunteers and 2 million supporters.
American financial firms like Visa, MasterCard, Western Union and PayPal, apparently under government pressure, have been blocking funds for WikiLeaks for months. The immediate reason was the publishing of some 250,000 U.S. State Department cables last year.
The refusal by U.S. firms to accept donations has cost WikiLeaks tens of millions of dollars in lost funding, WikiLeaks said on Monday. Assange said donations were running at 100,000 euros a month in 2010 but dropped to a monthly figure of 6,000 to 7,000 euros this year.
Assange confirmed that WikiLeaks was facing legal cases in Denmark, Iceland, the UK and Australia, as well as an existing action in the EU.