Bank of America stops handling Wikileaks payments

Bank of America has stopped handling payments for
whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, joining several other major financial
institutions.

It said it acted because “Wikileaks may be engaged
in activities that are… inconsistent with our internal policies for
processing payments”.

In response, Wikileaks urged its supporters to stop doing
business with the bank – one of the world’s largest.

MasterCard, PayPal and other companies earlier cut off
Wikileaks’ payments.

The financial institutions acted after Wikileaks –
together with several major media organisations – began publishing thousands of
secret US diplomatic cables, causing tension between Washington and some of its
allies.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was earlier this week
freed on bail in the UK while facing extradition proceedings to Sweden over
sexual assault allegations.

Mr Assange, 39, dismissed the claims as part of a
“smear” campaign.

He also said he was worried about an attempt to extradite
him to the United States, adding that Washington was conducting an
“aggressive” and “illegal” investigation into him and the
website.

In a statement, the North Carolina-based Bank of America
said it would “not process transactions of any type that we have reason to
believe are intended for Wikileaks”.

The statement provided no further details.

Wikileaks responded in a message on Twitter, urging
“all people who love freedom close out their accounts at Bank of
America”.

The website also called for businesses to “place
your funds somewhere safer”.

Wikileaks has recently said it will soon release
documents that will point to “unethical” practices” at some US
banks.

There has been speculation that the Bank of America could
be one of the institutions mentioned in the US diplomatic cables.

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