Published time: April 24, 2013 17:22
Edited time: April 24, 2013 18:21
AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini
Iceland’s Supreme Court has ruled that Valitor (formerly Visa Iceland) must pay WikiLeaks $204,900 per month or $2,494,604 per year in fines if it continues to blockade the whistle-blowing site.
The court upheld the decision that Valitor had unlawfully terminated its contract with WikiLeaks’ donation processor, DataCell.
“Today’s decision marked the most important victory to date against the unlawful and arbitrary economic blockade erected by US companies against WikiLeaks,” the organization’s press release stated.
Be interesting to see whether Visa will spend $204k a month in fines rather than lifting the blockade generally. Either way, we win.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assage thanked the Icelandic people “for showing that they will not be bullied by powerful Washington backed financial services companies like Visa.”
WikiLeaks asserts that the financial blockade was imposed after the site published leaks exposing corruption within Iceland in December 2010. The leak shed light onto why the country’s banking system collapsed in 2008.
The Icelandic Supreme Court is the highest court in Iceland. There is no route of appeal for Valitor.
Economic blockades against WikiLeaks have starved the whistle-blowing site of funds, prompting WikiLeaks to launch fundraisers on its main page. WikiLeaks has previously accused “hard-right US politicians” of orchestrating the “extrajudicial” banking blockade against it.
Freedom of the press campaigners such as Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Elsberg and actor John Cusack have launched the Freedom of the Press Foundation, aimed at collecting money for WikiLeaks. The organization allows donors to make anonymous, tax-deductible donations.
A similar legal battle is currently taking place against a Danish sub-contractor for Visa, equivalent to Valitor.
Last November, the European Parliament passed a resolution which included a clause drafted specifically in relation to the economic blockade against WikiLeaks. The resolution called on the European Commission to draft regulations which would prevent online payment facilitators from arbitrarily denying services to companies or organizations, such as WikiLeaks.
The whistle-blowing site says it has launched a formal complaint to the European Commission on the basis that Visa and MasterCard have unlawfully abused their dominant market position. The two credit card companies currently take up 95 per cent of the European market. It remains unclear whether the Commission will open a formal investigation.