Iceland’s Supreme Court ruled on 24 April 2013 that Valitor, Visa’s
local partner in Iceland, had to resume processing online donations to
WikiLeaks within two weeks or face a daily fine of around 5200 Euro
in case of non-compliance, thus backing up the decision taken
by a lower Icelandic court in July 2012.
“This is a victory for WikiLeaks and freedom of information. The
arbitrary blocking of payments put in place by financial service
companies was completely illegal and has now been condemned as such by a
country’s highest court”, stated Reporters Without Borders which urged
all the other financial companies involved, directly or indirectly, in
blocking payments to Wikileaks, “to comply with the logic of Iceland’s
supreme court ruling without waiting to be legally forced to do so.”
“We thank the Icelandic people for showing that they will not be bullied
by powerful Washington-backed financial services companies like Visa and
we send out a warning to the other companies involved in this blockade –
you’re next,” stated Mr Assange for AP news agency.
The case started in 2010 when several financial institutions including
Visa and MasterCard stopped processing donations and other payments to
WikiLeaks, after Wikileaks had decided to start publishing about 250 000
US State Department emails, letters and other information.
According to WikiLeaks the financial blockade resulted in a 95% drop in
revenue which came mostly from donations. DataCell, a company collecting
donations for WikiLeaks, filed a complaint with the European Commission
against Visa Europe, MasterCard Europe and American Express accusing
them of violating European Union competition rules.
A preliminary decision of the Commission in November 2012 said blocking
of processing donations was unlikely to have violated EU anti-trust
rules. On 19 November 2012, the European Parliament passed a resolution
asking the European Commission to take measures to prevent credit card
companies from refusing to process payments to companies and NGOs. Yet,
the Commission continued to allow the blocking.
Court orders Visa subcontractor to lift block on payments to WikiLeaks
Wikileaks in Iceland court victory over payments blockade (25.04.2013)
Wikileaks Press release – Milestone Supreme Court Decision for WikiLeaks
Case in Iceland (24.04.2013)
EDRi-gram: Banking blockade on Wikileaks broken by the Icelandic court