30 November 2012

Bernard Keane on the financial blocking of WikiLeaks

The Wednesday edition of online newsletter Crikey included a good piece by Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane on the inconsistent standards applied by Visa and Mastercard, whose joint financial blockade of the organisation has starved it of about 80% of its funds.

Keane writes that in doing so these financial giants are partly relying on the Australian government’s discredited claims about the illegality of WikiLeaks’ publication of diplomatic cables.

The fact that no prosecution has been mounted anywhere against WikiLeaks’ publication or sourcing the cables doesn’t bother them: Visa Europe’s position is that the blockade will be lifted when it is “finally determined” that WikiLeaks is not acting illegally – a stance which relies on proving a negative.

Keane goes on:

Mastercard and Visa have also failed to apply the test of whether an organisation has been “finally determined” to have not acted illegally in other circumstances. Rupert Murdoch’s News International has already admitted in court to the crimes of phone hacking and computer hacking and its current and former staff are facing charges of bribery, with claims that complicity in those crimes goes into senior management levels; News Corporation itself is also under investigation in the US for bribery of foreign officials.

By this logic, both News International and News Corporation itself should have been blockaded by Visa and Mastercard long ago, and remain blockaded until the resolution of all pending investigations and court actions arising from their activities.

The Government does not come out of it well:

The government has been repeatedly invited to withdraw its description of WikiLeaks’s activities as illegal and has so far declined to do so.

This is consistent with its standard positions of never admitting an error, never offending the United States, and always doing as little as possible to assist Australians it does not happen to like, including (especially) Julian Assange himself.

Read Bernard Keane’s piece in full here.

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