SAN FRANCISCO: MasterCard Worldwide on Monday stopped funneling payments to WikiLeaks a day after online financial transactions service disconnected a button for donations to the whistle-blower website.
News website CNET cited a MasterCard spokesman as saying WikiLeaks was being cut off due to rules barring use for “directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal.”
WikiLeaks has responded to threats on its funding with online pleas to “Keep us strong.” People could still donate to the website using Visa, bank transfers, or sending donations by old-fashioned “snail mail.”
The net was tightening around Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Monday as Swiss authorities shut a bank account and British police reportedly received an international arrest warrant issued by Sweden.
The Swiss Post Office’s banking arm said it had closed an account set up by the embattled Australian after he gave false information.
“PostFinance has ended its business relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Paul Assange,” the bank said in a statement.
WikiLeaks had advertised the PostFinance account details online to “donate directly to the Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks Staff Defense Fund,” giving an account name of “Assange Julian Paul, Geneve.”
WikiLeaks came under attack from a different angle during the weekend when a “hacktivist” operating with the handle “th3j35t3r” disabled the website with a dedicated-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, according to Internet security firm Panda Labs.
A statement evidently issued by the hacker, or hackers, at microblogging service Twitter claimed the assault was retaliation for WikiLeaks “attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, other assets & foreign relations,” according to Panda.
In one of its most explosive leaks of US secrets so far, WikiLeaks divulged a list of key infrastructure sites around the world that, if attacked by terrorists, could critically harm US security.
The DDoS attack kept WikiLeaks down for nearly 28 hours before it was moved elsewhere on the Internet to evade the onslaught, according to Panda.
Mirror websites, which replicate WikiLeaks’ data, have sprung up on servers in various countries.
The release added to the political storm engulfing Wikileaks and Assange, who broke cover on Friday to say in an online chat that he had boosted his security after receiving death threats.
The elusive 39-year-old is thought to be hiding in Britain.