PayPal, it was announced today, has revoked donations to the controversial whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. The move was over an alleged violation of its terms and conditions agreement, citing a policy to not allow use for any service that will “encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity.” Julian Assange, in a twitter post, alleges that the move has come as the result of pressure from American officials.
Assange has also argued that his arrest warrant and international pursuit over a series of sexual crimes, including rape, in Sweden is the result of a smear campaign to denigrate his credibility. This has been anecdotally supported in the popular media by a number of confusing decisions made by the Swedish authorities regarding the accusation at the beginning of the investigation. Nonetheless, the current pursuit has thrown Assange into hiding where he has had to begin eliciting financial support for his legal defense through his website.
In recent weeks, WikiLeaks has also endured other troubles, such as several denial-of-service attacks, some from unknown origins, the revocation of one of its domain names, and the dropping of its presence on the popular Amazon load-balancing web service EC2 (elastic cloud computing) without warning. As a result, access to the website has been choppy at best of late, damaging the groups ability to accept supportive funding, made worse by the aforementioned issues with PayPal.
Several days ago, a Republican congressman, Peter King of New York, called the founder and his website a “terrorist organization” and announced his intention to ask the attorney general, Eric Holder, to attempt to prosecute Assange. He posits that the actions of WikiLeaks are a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917, which prohibits any attempt to interfere with military activity, support American enemies during wartime, or to promote instability within the military.
While it is unlikely that the congressman’s words will result in any direct legal action, it does undercurrent a growing sentiment within the American political climate that WikiLeaks is a group bent on harming the United States and allied nations and must be stopped. This attitude has fueled speculation that WikiLeaks is, and has been, under direct attack by America and her allies and could be the driving mechanism behind the trouble it, and its founder, have endured.
Regardless of the validity of this consideration, which seems challenging to believe given the intense scrutiny that the group and associated actions have been given, there is no denying that Assange has been declared the preeminent enemy of American political figures. As WikiLeaks prepares to release even more diplomatic cables, which it has promised will reveal even more critical information, the fire is sure to continue burning bright. Already there has been one casualty in the saga, William Crosbie, a Canadian diplomat who has offered to resign over one of his released cables.
Trouble will only intensify when, as promised, WikiLeaks releases damning information about a major American bank that some have speculated will be Bank of America, rumors of which have fueled stock market reaction. It will be quite interesting in the coming months to see what response WikiLeaks receives from political and corporate leadership, who assuredly are becoming more nervous by the day. I find myself wondering what end-game Assange sees for himself in his crusade, but one can only guess that he is aware that no positive or affirming outcome is possible now. He has stirred the pot too vigorously to return to any sense of normalcy.
However, from my limited understand of his ideology, I believe that he is probably okay with that. He has changed the world, for better or worse, and proven the power of information. Whether positively or negatively, history will remember him now, and that might be enough for him.
He has certainly made these times, if also uneasy, quite interesting.Powered by Sidelines