18.9 C
Byron Shire
August 4, 2021

Visa relies on our government’s statements to blockade WikiLeaks

Latest News

Youth arrested over Nimbin shooting

A 20-year-old has been charged over a shooting that took place in the middle of the day near the centre of Nimbin.

Other News

Sticking to facts

Roger Cotgreave, Byron Bay Thanks to The Echo for reporting scientific facts around the pandemic and not relying on social media...

Unnecessary divisions

Louise Andrews, Lennox Head Dear Mandy, an excellent article in The Echo (Soapbox, 21 July). It saddens me too to witness...

Staged rollout change for large OS DA

Plans by a developer to change the staged rollout for a large Ocean Shores subdivision, and nine dwellings on 11 and 13 Warrambool Rd and 9 Bian Crt, Ocean Shores, are now on exhibition on Council’s website.

Pandemic

Sarah Smith, Byron Shire Finally, our premier is speaking a language that the business community of Sydney should comprehend – a...

NSW Parliament off for a month, with full pay

With COVID-19 cases surging across Sydney and defence forces being deployed in the city, NSW Parliament put out a brief statement last week saying MPs will not sit in the month of August ‘owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in NSW’.

Fifteen arrested in Brisbane protest

Police say they have arrested fifteen people following protest activity in Brisbane CBD this morning.


Bernard Keane

Originally published in Crikey

Giant US financial intermediary Visa is partly relying on the Gillard government’s claims that WikiLeaks acted ‘illegally’ to justify its ongoing financial blockade of the whistleblower and media outlet, new material obtained by WikiLeaks has revealed.

WikiLeaks’ campaign against the illegal blockade, which has strangled the organisation of more than 90 per cent of its funds, has suffered a setback this week after the European Commission declined to investigate the blockade (specifically, of the company DataCell, which WikiLeaks had been using) despite the European Parliament resolving last week that the Commission should seek to prevent the ‘arbitrary refusal of payments by credit card companies’.

WikiLeaks has obtained some of the material used by the US financial giants Visa and MasterCard to justify the blockade to the Commission (the material, in large PDFs, is here and here). Citing its own secret legal advice, Visa Europe told the Commission:

‘… the legal position of WikiLeaks’ activities remains uncertain… for this reason, the suspension of the processing of payments for the benefit of WikiLeaks over the Visa network continues, although if it was finally determined that WikiLeaks is not carrying out any illegal activities then the question of suspension would not arise.’

As part of its justification for claiming that the legal status of WikiLeaks was unresolved, Visa Europe cited the statement of then-attorney-general Robert McClelland in December 2010 about the release of the diplomatic cables that ‘you would have to assume that there is a reasonable case that the act of sourcing the information did involve illegal events’.

McClelland’s statement was a shift from the position of the prime minister, who a week earlier had called WikiLeaks’ publication of the cables ‘illegal’. She was then embarrassed when the Australian Federal Police declared that WikiLeaks had broken no laws. Like McClelland, the prime minister then shifted to saying that the documents had been obtained, rather than published, illegally.

Crikey understands that, like Visa Europe, MasterCard Australia has privately indicated that it too is relying on the statements of the prime minister and the then-attorney-general to justify its financial blockade, although it has dismissed online claims that it was ‘directed’ by the government.

But no prosecution has been mounted anywhere against WikiLeaks’ publication or sourcing the cables. A grand jury in the United States has been investigating the circumstances of the leak of the cables and other secret information, but no indictment has yet been revealed of anyone beyond the accused leaker, Bradley Manning, currently facing a Kafkaesque military trial at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, despite efforts to manufacture a relationship between Manning and Julian Assange.

Media outlets routinely publish secret material that has been leaked without examination of their legal status; indeed, key US newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post rely heavily on anonymous leaks of secret information from US government sources.

Visa Europe’s position, however, can be maintained indefinitely. Saying the blockade will be lifted when it is ‘finally determined’ that WikiLeaks is not acting illegally relies on proving a negative. The absence of prosecutions for any aspect of WikiLeaks’ activities so far has plainly been insufficient, and no government is going to permanently grant legal indemnity to any organisation into the future.

MasterCard and Visa have also failed to apply the test of whether an organisation has been ‘finally determined’ to have not acted illegally in other circumstances. Rupert Murdoch’s News International has already admitted in court to the crimes of phone hacking and computer hacking and its current and former staff are facing charges of bribery, with claims that complicity in those crimes goes into senior management levels; News Corporation itself is also under investigation in the US for bribery of foreign officials.

By this logic, both News International and News Corporation itself should have been blockaded by Visa and MasterCard long ago, and remain blockaded until the resolution of all pending investigations and court actions arising from their activities.

The government has been repeatedly invited to withdraw its description of WikiLeaks’ activities as illegal and has so far declined to do so. ‘This is a matter for Visa Europe and the EU,’ a spokesperson for current attorney-general, Nicola Roxon, told Crikey.

Previous articleKirtan raiser
Next articleTweed caseworkers walk out

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

NSW Parliament off for a month, with full pay

With COVID-19 cases surging across Sydney and defence forces being deployed in the city, NSW Parliament put out a brief statement last week saying MPs will not sit in the month of August ‘owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in NSW’.

Markets could return to Byron’s Butler St Reserve

Byron’s weekly farmers’ market may return to its traditional home in Butler Street Reserve after detailed soil testing found that the park was less contaminated than was feared.

Push to create transitional accommodation at Lot 22

Should the Council-owned plot of land in Mullumbimby, known as Lot 22, be used for temporary accommodation for those at risk of homelessness, as a matter of urgency?

Sticking to facts

Roger Cotgreave, Byron Bay Thanks to The Echo for reporting scientific facts around the pandemic and not relying on social media ‘research’. Also a big thanks...