As cash runs out, WikiLeaks sets up new payment system

WikiLeaks supporters have set up a new website to channel donations to the whistle-blowing site, following a long-standing banking blockade.

On Saturday, the group tweeted that its funds were now down to just $1,500 as a result of the blockade from major payment processors including PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard. The blockade followed WikiLeaks’ publication of classified State Department documents in 2010.

“Financial transactions are speech. The financial embargo was censorship – not just of WikiLeaks but of all of us who wished to donate to WikiLeaks,” says Freedom of the Press Foundation board member and co-founder John Perry Barlow, a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead.

WikiLeaks now hopes to crowdsource donations, not just for WikiLeaks but for other investigative journalism too. To start with, it’s allowing donors to give to The National Security Archive, MuckRock News and The UpTake, as well as WikiLeaks itself.

“Seeking the truth in reporting without fear or favor is one of the great traditions of journalism and the foundation that underlies the First Amendment,” says Trevor Timm, co-founder and executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

“We aim to support economic independence in the Fourth Estate, so that hard-hitting investigative journalism doesn’t end up on the cutting-room floor because of government or corporate censorship.”

The website’s currently able to accept donations from all major credit cards – although that may not, of course, last.

Meanwhile WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, says he’s planning to make a Christmas address this Thursday.

“London, Thursday December 20, 7PM: Julian Assange to address the crowd in front of the Ecuadorian Embassy, marking six months of his asylum,” he says.

The group’s promising mulled wine to those that turn up.