WikiLeaks has released European Commission documents which allegedly show ‘hard-right US politicians’ orchestrated an ‘extrajudicial’ banking blockade against the whistle-blowing site. In the heavily redacted documents, MasterCard Europe “admits” US Congressmen Joseph Lieberman and Peter T. King were involved in conversations with MasterCard in the United States, WikiLeaks said Tuesday.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tweeted on Tuesday “it is concerning that hard-right elements in the United States have been able to pressure VISA & MasterCard,” adding “there is no sovereignty without economic sovereignty.”
The exact nature of Lieberman and King’s dealing with MasterCard remain unknown, though both lawmakers have historically taken a hard line against the organization. King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, had previously sought to classify WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization, claiming they should be prosecuted for violating the Espionage act.
King, who said Cablegate was even worse than “a physical attack on Americans,” was behind a failed ploy to add Wikileaks to the US Treasury Department’s Specially Designated National and Blocked persons List.
Liberman, one-time chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also went after WikLeaks by introducing the so-called SHIELD Act (Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination) in 2010. The act would have made it a federal offense to publish information “concerning the identity of a classified source or informant of an element of the intelligence community of the United States,” or “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government” if said publication was in opposition to US interests.
Lieberman also boasted of inciting Amazon to cut its services to WikiLeaks.
While MasterCard is registered in Belgium and owned by a consortium of European banks, WikiLeaks says “the Commission papers show that European control of VISA Europe and MasterCard Europe is a fiction.”
In a bid to bolster the financial sovereignty of Europe, last Tuesday the European Parliament ordered new legislation to regulate a credit card’s ability to refuse service.
[The European Parliament] Considers it likely that there will be a growing number of European companies whose activities are effectively dependent on being able to accept payments by card; considers it to be in the public interest to define objective rules describing the circumstances and procedures under which card payment schemes may unilaterally refuse acceptance,“ Article 32 of its recent resolution reads.
MasterCard Incorporated says it did not “have any contacts with public authorities, and therefore did not act upon request from any public authorities” regarding its December 2010 decision to join a financial blockade of WikiLeaks.
The company said any affiliation with an organization “causing damage to the national interests of several nations involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq” and potentially “putting lives needlessly at risk” would be “damaging for the public perception of MasterCard,” the documents reveal.
Following the February 2010 US diplomatic cables leak instigated by WikiLeaks, Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union have blocked all funds to WikiLeaks for the last 725 days.
WikiLeaks says the blockade, which has no legal foundation according to US law, has “destroyed 95 percent of our revenue.”