Milestone Supreme Court Decision for WikiLeaks Case in Iceland
The decision marked the most important victory to date against the unlawful and arbitrary economic blockade erected by US companies against WikiLeaks. Iceland’s Supreme Court upheld the decision that Valitor (formerly VISA Iceland and current Visa subcontractor) had unlawfully terminated its contract with WikiLeaks donations processor DataCell. This strong judgement is an important milestone for WikiLeaks’ legal battle to end the economic blockade that has besieged the organisation since early December 2010. Despite the effects of the blockade having crippled WikiLeaks resources, the organisation is fighting the blockade on many fronts. It is a battle that concerns free speech and the future of the free press; it concerns fundamental civil rights; and it is a struggle for the rights of individuals to vote with their wallet and donate to the cause they believe in.
If the gateway to WikiLeaks donations is not re-opened within 15 days Visa’s Valitor will be fined 800,000 ISK ($6,830) per day.
WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange, said:
“This is a victory for free speech. This is a victory against the rise of economic censorship to crack down against journalists and publishers”
“We thank the Icelandic people for showing that they will not be bullied by powerful Washington backed financial services companies like Visa. And we send out a warning to the other companies involved in this blockade: you’re next.”
“We hope that the that the European Commission also acknowledges that the economic blockade against WikiLeaks is an unlawful and arbitrary censorship mechanism that threatens freedom of the press across Europe. If it fails to do so, the Commission must be regarded as failing to live up to the founding European principles of economic and political freedom.”
Today’s verdict strengthens other fronts in this battle. There is an active legal action in Denmark against a Danish sub-contractor for VISA, equivalent to Valitor. The decision will also buttress the pre-litigation work already under way in various jurisdictions against the international card companies and financial services companies – VISA and MasterCard, Western Union, PayPal and Bank of America, and other payment facilitators that teamed with these giants to form a concerted, and equally unlawful economic blockade against the organisation.
In November the European Parliament passed a resolution which included a clause drafted specifically in relation to the economic blockade against Wikileaks. The resolution called on the European Commission to draft regulations that will prevent online payment facilitators from arbitrarily denying services to companies or organisations, such as WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks has also launched a formal complaint to the European Commission on the basis that VISA and MasterCard, which together take up 95% of the European market, have unlawfully abused their dominant market position. The European Commission is still evaluating whether it will open a formal investigation but documents already submitted by the companies reveal that the credit card companies were in talks with powerful figures in the US Congress and Senate (Senator Lieberman and Congressman Peter T. King). http://wikileaks.org/European-Commission-enabling.html
Although it is still not possible to donate directly to WikiLeaks via credit card, freedom of press campaigners including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Elsberg, the actor John Cusack, and the Founder of the California-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) John Perry Barlow, have set up the Freedom of the Press Foundation to collect money for WikiLeaks. It allows donors to make anonymous, tax-deductable donations. http://t.co/qpW57qquOf
This and similar mechanisms for Europeans are available on http://shop.wikileaks.org/donate
Freedom of the Press Foundation:
Julian Assange asylum (one year, June 19, 2013)
Bradley Manning (trial June 2)
The barring of Tim Pat Coogan from coming to America for a book tour is disgraceful. He was refused a visa when he applied for one for his new book tour.
It is one in a clear pattern of a number of recent clueless decisions at the American Embassy in Dublin at the consular level that defy logic.
Ambassador Dan Rooney is clearly unable or unwilling to use his own discretion in some of these cases.
Ever since Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith played a stellar role in the Irish peace process by running her embassy with an iron fist, the functionaries have done their very best to keep incoming ambassadors powerless.
Never mind that Kennedy’s role stand suit like a beacon in the annals of American diplomacy in Ireland. An ambassador the bureaucrats cannot control is a dangerous person indeed it seems.
They did not succeed in the Bush era where excellent appointments ensured that many political issues were retained at the ambassadorial level.
That does not seem to be the case today. The Tim Pat Coogan case is a travesty but senior Irish government officials have told me it is by no means the only strange decision emanating from the embassy in recent times.
There seems to be a hardening attitude there to make it as difficult as possible for people to come to the U.S. from changes in how the J1 one year visa program is being administered to several high profile turndowns.
Blink and you might think you were back in the McCarthy era.
Put simply, there was no greater defender of America in Ireland for the past few decades than Tim Pat Coogan, especially at times when the anti-American sentiment there was at its highest.
His pro-American stances, both in his Irish Press newspaper and his writing about the power of the Irish Diaspora were major factors in keeping the American flag flying in Ireland.
He played a key behind the scenes role in the Irish peace process, especially in the early days when his contacts with Father Alex Reid, the unsung hero of the entire process, were vital.
He was deeply trusted by the Kennedy family and it was a famous meal in Dublin he had with Senator Edward Kennedy convincing him of the need for a visa for Gerry Adams that swayed the Massachusetts senator as well as helping bring President Clinton into the loop.
Visiting Irish Americans are always assured of a hearty welcome from Tim Pat and his backing for America and stance against the anti-American rhetoric so often spouted in Ireland made him this country’s prime defender.
Yet this is the 77-year-old man who the American Embassy just refused a visa to come to America too and humiliated him in the process?
Is there no institutional memory whatever at the embassy that can separate and remember a friend? No one who was able to realize the deep insult they had just inflicted on America’s greatest journalistic ally there?
Where was Ambassador Rooney in all this, as we know he was personally aware of the case?
There are so many questions but one undeniable fact. It will be a blot forever on the Dublin embassy that it humiliated one of its greatest supporters and Ireland’s leading historian by refusing a visa to launch his new book on the Irish famine.
Disgraceful is the word for it.