By Kitty Testa
On October 14, 2010, the British internet payment company, Moneybookers, suspended the account of WikiLeaks. Less than two months later, PayPal also suspended WikiLeaks’ donation account, citing a violation of acceptable use. Visa Europe suspended payments to WikiLeaks the same day, after Mastercard had already done so. WikiLeaks was very quickly cut off from donations to fund its whistle-blowing activities.
Although neither Moneybookers nor PayPal divulged that the suspension was related to pressure from the US government, WikiLeaks was already under fire from the United States for publishing documents leaked by Bradley Manning.
Ultimately Manning was charged with aiding the enemy, and could have received a death sentence.
Seven years later, Manning has received a pardon from Barack Obama, while WikiLeaks was able to survive and grow by accepting donations in Bitcoin.
On October 14, 2017, Julian Assange, the director and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks tweeted a surprise thank you note to those who blacklisted the organization in the first place.
My deepest thanks to the US government, Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman for pushing Visa, MasterCard, Payal, AmEx, Mooneybookers, et al, into erecting an illegal banking blockade against @WikiLeaks starting in 2010. It caused us to invest in Bitcoin — with > 50000% return.
So how much Bitcoin does WikiLeaks have? No one knows for certain, but the folks over at Fortune estimate that WikiLeaks could be sitting on as much as $472 million worth of Bitcoin due to its rapid rise in value in 2017.
It’s a rather delicious irony.