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Posted at 12:28 PM ET, 10/24/2011

WikiLeaks will scale back publication of secret documents to focus on fundraising


(Luke Macgregor — Reuters)
LONDON -- The anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks says it will be scaling back operations so that it can focus on raising money.

For months, WikiLeaks has been prevented from receiving donations through VISA, Mastercard and other firms that process financial transactions. Those firms severed their relations with the organization after American officials described its release of classified documents as damaging to U.S. national security interests.

On Monday, founder Julian Assange told reporters in London that WikLeaks would “temporarily suspend all publishing operations in order to direct all our resources to fighting the blockade and raising funds,” adding that the “blockade” had wiped out 95 percent of WikiLeaks’ revenue.

The 40-year-old Australian also said that the organization is “working on other issues” and had other publications pending.

Assange argued that the financial boycott that began nearly 11 months ago was politically motivated and had left WikiLeaks surviving “almost entirely” on cash reserves.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesman for WikiLeaks, said that before the boycott began in late 2010, the average monthly donation to WikiLeaks exceeded 100,000 Euros. Since them. Hrafnsson said, monthly contributions have plummeted to between 6,000 and 7,000 Euros.

Assange and his associates have sued Visa and Mastercard over their decision to suspend transactions to WikiLeaks, and Assange said Monday that those lawsuits were still being pursued. But WikiLeaks, he said, would not be “putting all our eggs in the judicial basket.” Instead, it will launch new payment options for supporters, including SMS payments and “checks and cash” sent in the mail.

Assange is currently living under partial house arrest in the English countryside as he fights extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual misconduct. A decision in that case is expected soon.

By  |  12:28 PM ET, 10/24/2011

 
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