Visa Europe Blocks WikiLeaks Donations Through Payment Site

Visa Europe Ltd. said it stopped payments to WikiLeaks a second time, hours after an Internet site restarted donations to the anti-secrecy group.

WikiLeaks’s payment provider, DataCell, attempted to use an alternative-payment gateway to process money sent through MasterCard, the world’s second-largest payments network, and Visa Europe, which runs the largest card network in the European Union, Reykjavik, Iceland-based DataCell said yesterday.

“As soon as this came to our attention, action was taken with the suspension of Visa payment acceptance,” Amanda Kamin, a spokeswoman for London-based Visa Europe said in an e-mailed statement today.

Visa Europe and MasterCard in December blocked WikiLeaks from using its network to collect funds from donors. WikiLeaks, led by Julian Assange, publishes secret documents, including confidential U.S. diplomatic and military information. MasterCard’s website has been attacked by hackers in retaliation as recently as last month.

Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, a lawyer for DataCell and WikiLeaks in Reykjavik, confirmed that Valitor, a payment processor linked to Visa and MasterCard, “terminated the contract with DataCell for payment processing this morning,” he said in an e-mail.

Donation Processing

“The reason they give is that orders have been given by the international card companies to close down the gateway and that processing donations to WikiLeaks is a violation of general terms between the two parties,” DataCell said in a separate statement.

Valitor, based in Reykjavik, declined to immediately comment.

MasterCard, the world’s second-biggest payments network, said it had never changed its policy on accepting WikiLeaks donations.

“MasterCard’s position on acceptance has not changed,” James Issokson, a spokesman for the firm, said in a phone interview.

Andreas Fink, DataCell’s chief executive, said in an e-mail that the company may have received “five-to-six digit figures” in donations for Wikileaks before the payments were halted.

DataCell said yesterday it was also able to process WikiLeaks donations made through American Express Co. (AXP), the biggest credit-card issuer by customer spending. Christine Elliott, a spokeswoman for New York-based American Express Co., declined to immediately comment.

The WikiLeaks Twitter account, which has almost 1 million followers, posted a message yesterday about the “Financial block workaround.”

“Donate whilst you can Visa, MasterCard and AmEx,” read the rest of the message, which linked back to the WikiLeaks website.

Visa Europe split from Visa Inc. (V) before the San Francisco- based company’s initial public offering in 2008.

To contact the reporters on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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