Swedish ISP, Payment Site Say They’ll Keep WikiLeaks as Client

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Swedish internet services provider Bahnhof AB and payment website Flattr said they will keep WikiLeaks as a client after companies including Amazon.com Inc. and PayPal Inc. cut off the whistleblower.

Flattr, which allows its users to donate a monthly sum and divide it between internet content providers by clicking Flattr buttons, is open to anyone who wants to use it, Jonas Birgersson, who heads the Malmoe, Sweden-based company’s advisory board, said today by phone. WikiLeaks added the button from its website, he said.

The U.S. has condemned the website after it published thousands of classified State Department documents. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces extradition to Sweden related to alleged sex crimes. PayPal, the payment processor owned by EBay Inc., cut access to WikiLeaks website on Dec. 4 citing violation of the acceptable use policy. MasterCard Inc., the world’s second largest payments processor, and Visa Europe Ltd. also cut off the website.

“We treat WikiLeaks just like any other customer,” Bahnhof Chief Executive Officer Anna Mossberg said in an interview. “Like any other Swedish ISP, the two things that would cause us to drop a client would be if they stop paying invoices or if the Swedish police would contact us and say that the customer is doing something illegal according to Swedish law.”

No Contact, Pressure

Flattr and Bahnhof haven’t been contacted or pressured to drop WikiLeaks as a client or seen any signs of attacks against the operations, Birgersson and Mossberg said. Bahnhof hosts two servers for WikiLeaks in a mountain cavity in Stockholm’s Soedermalm district. To minimize damage in case of an attack, WikiLeaks’ servers are kept separate from those of other clients, Mossberg said.

Assange was denied a Swedish residency and work permit by the Swedish Migration Board in October. The residency would have allowed Assange to establish WikiLeaks as a Swedish publication, protected by the constitution. Sweden shares the top placement in the 2010 global Press Freedom Index with five other European countries, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said on its website.

Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Laila Freivalds was forced to resign in March 2006 after it became known she had been involved in discussions that led to the closing down of the Sweden Democrats’ website. At the time, the website featured cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Alleged Sex Crimes

Assange’s sex crimes are alleged to have occurred in August when he was in Sweden lecturing about WikiLeaks’ release of documents related to the war in Afghanistan. Assange has been in custody in London since Dec. 7 after Swedish police issued a European arrest warrant. He denies the allegations.

The Swedish Broadcasting Company yesterday reported it has been “very difficult” for Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny and Assange to agree on a date for him to be questioned. Ny refused to talk over the phone or videolink and offered Assange to come “discreetly” to Sweden since there was no warrant for his arrest. After Assange failed to respond for a month, she requested a court to issue an arrest warrant.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janina Pfalzer in Stockholm at jpfalzer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net