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Originally published Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 3:07 AM

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WikiLeaks claims new funding channel in France

WikiLeaks is opening a new front in its battle to break the financial blockade imposed by credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, the group said Wednesday, saying it could now accept donations through a French non-profit.

Associated Press

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LONDON —

WikiLeaks is opening a new front in its battle to break the financial blockade imposed by credit card giants Visa and MasterCard, the group said Wednesday, saying it could now accept donations through a French non-profit.

Visa and MasterCard were among half a dozen U.S. payment firms to pull the plug on WikiLeaks once it made its controversial decision to begin publishing some 250,000 secret State Department cables in December 2010.

It's not clear whether Visa or MasterCard would tolerate the move. In 2011 WikiLeaks briefly opened a payment gateway - through Icelandic payment processor DataCell - only to see it shut down by Visa on short notice.

In his statement, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange - who remains holed up at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he is seeking asylum - dared Visa to try to foil his latest fundraising plan.

"Let them shut it down," he said, accusing the card companies of "corrupt pandering" to Washington. "We're waiting," he said. "Our lawyers are waiting."

Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of sexual misconduct.

The financial companies took action against WikiLeaks after U.S. and foreign officials warned that their publication of secret documents would have calamitous consequences for American diplomats and their informants, with some accusing WikiLeaks of being a terrorist organization.

But as many of the worst predictions failed to materialize, the group's advocates claimed the ongoing blockade raised concerns about corporate censorship.

WikiLeaks has since launched lawsuits against Visa, MasterCard, and their local partners across Europe - recently winning a case in Iceland against payment processor Valitor.

WikiLeaks' latest move would see it partner with France's Fund for the Defense of Net Neutrality to take advantage of that country's debit card system, known as Carte Bleue. Carte Bleue is Visa's French affiliate and WikiLeaks says that opening this new payment gateway would once again allow supporters to use their credit cards to fund the group.

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