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WikiLeaks sues Visa, Mastercard over 'financial blockade'

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WikiLeaks is suing Visa and MasterCard over their decision to suspend payment facilities for the whistleblowing website in the wake of last year's US diplomatic cables release row.

The whistleblowing site and Datacell, a service provider assisting WikiLeaks, are jointly suing the credit card giants over allegedly running an "unlawful, US influenced financial blockade". The legal action makes good on a promise delivered in an ultimatum by lawyers acting for WikiLeaks last month threatening to sue in Denmark.

Teller, a Danish payment processing firm that supplied services to WikiLeaks at the time plastic card payment facilities were suspended last year, is also named in the suit.

Lawyers for WikiLeaks argue that Mastercard Europe and Visa Europe are each in serious breach of EU Competition Rules in blocking all credit card transactions to WikiLeaks and DataCell since last December. In addition, the credit card firms allegedly broke Danish law in both terminating and subsequently refusing to re-instate suspended accounts.

Visa and Mastercard have not shown any willingness to negotiate a settlement, according to WikiLeaks, hence the decision to place the matter into the hands of its Scandinavian lawyers. Further actions in other jurisdictions will follow, a statement by Datacell on the legal action warns.

Credit card firms were at the front of denial of service attacks launched by Anonymous following the decision to suspend WikiLeaks account last year. It's unclear if this is part of the reason why Visa and Mastercard are reluctant to negotiate. ®

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