New website aims to bypass block on payments to WikiLeaks

Payments will be made through a new organization called Freedom of the Press Foundation

A new website, set up by Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and some other civil rights activists, aims to crowdsource donations for WikiLeaks and three other organizations.

The launch of the Freedom of the Press Foundation website comes after WikiLeaks said in a Twitter message that as a result of a banking blockade, its main account now has a mere US$1500 left.

The whistleblower website said there would be a new "attack" on the blockade in a reference to the new website.

WikiLeaks said in another Twitter message that it needed to raise nearly $1 million to continue publishing through 2013.

MasterCard, Visa and American Express, among others, stopped processing payments for WikiLeaks when it started releasing about 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010.

The new organization is, however, collecting donations in its own name, and said on its website that payments till Jan. 31 will go to WikiLeaks, the National Security Archive, The UpTake and MuckRock News in proportions decided by the donor. WikiLeaks said in a statement on Sunday that it will not be possible to see by banking records what portion of a donor's contribution, if any, goes to WikiLeaks. "Your donation will appear on your billing statement as 'Freedom of the Press Foundation' and will be tax-deductible," the foundation said on its website.

MuckRock News is a website that helps people file requests under the Freedom of Information Act, while the National Security Archive is an archive of declassified U.S. government records. UpTake is described as a citizen-driven video news organization.

But what if payment processors blockade the Freedom of the Press Foundation as they did WikiLeaks ? "Let Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and all the rest block the independent Freedom of the Press Foundation. Let them demonstrate to the world once again who they really are," WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange said in the statement.

Freedom of the Press Foundation aims to release every two months a new "bundle" of organizations or individuals for which donations are invited, and does not appear to be only focused on raising funds for WikiLeaks.

The organization could not be immediately reached for comment.

The website said it accepts payments from all major credit cards including MasterCard, Visa, and American Express.

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John Ribeiro

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