(WIKILEAKS PRESS RELEASE) – Hard-right U.S. politicians were directly behind the extrajudicial banking blockade against WikiLeaks, according to documents released by the anti-secrecy organization.
In the heavily redacted documents leaked from the European Commission, MasterCard Europe admits that Senator Joseph Lieberman and Congressman Peter T. King both “had conversations” with MasterCard in the United States over cooperating on the blockade.
Lieberman, the chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, is revealed boasting of instigating Amazon’s cutting of service to WikiLeaks.
Senator Lieberman tried to introduce the SHIELD Act into the Senate and advocated for prosecuting the New York Times for espionage in connection with WikiLeaks’ releases.
Rep. Peter King, current chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, tried to formally designate WikiLeaks as a foreign terrorist organization, have its staff listed as ‘enemy combatants’, and have WikiLeaks put on a U.S. Treasury blacklist. On 13 January 2011 the U.S. Treasury announced it would not do so because there was no evidence that WikiLeaks should be on such a list.
While Lieberman and King were unsuccessful in these methods of legally cutting WikiLeaks from its popular donor base, they were successful in doing so extra-legally via VISA and MasterCard, which together hold a monopoly of 97 per cent of the market of EU card payments.
VISA Europe is registered in London and is owned by a consortium of European banks. MasterCard Europe is registered in Belgium and has similar ownership, but the Commission papers show that European control of VISA Europe and MasterCard Europe is a fiction. The papers reveal that the instructions to blockade WikiLeaks’ operations in Europe came directly from VISA and MasterCard in the United States. Ownership would normally imply control, but VISA and MasterCard Europe are essentially controlled by confidential contracts with their U.S. counterparts, a hidden organizational structure that the Commission calls an “association of undertakings.”
Julian Assange said: “There is no sovereignty without economic sovereignty. It is concerning that hard-right elements in the United States have been able to pressure VISA and MasterCard, who together hold monopoly over the European market, into introducing a blockade that the U.S. Treasury has rightly rejected. These unaccountable elements are directly interfering in the political and economic freedoms of EU consumers and are setting a precedent for political censorship of the world’s media.”