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WIKILEAKS

Swedish banks reported for WikiLeaks blockade

Sweden's Pirate Party has filed a complaint with the country's financial system watchdog alleging Swedish banks have been complicit in a long-running blockade of donations to WikiLeaks.

Swedish banks reported for WikiLeaks blockade

According to the complaint, filed on Monday with Sweden’s Finansinspektionen (FI), banks in Sweden have broken the law by denying Swedes the ability to make donations to the whistle blower website.

“The blockade is a serious threat to freedom of speech and expression,” Erik Lönroth of the Pirate Party said in a statement.

“It shouldn’t be up to a specific payment service to decide what sort of activities are appropriate and deserve the ability to receive financial support.”

Starting in December 2010, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, and other payment service providers stopped processing payments to WikiLeaks, making it difficult for would-be donors to support the whistleblower website.

WikiLeaks claims it has lost 95 percent of its revenue due to the blockade.

The Pirate Party complaint alleges that since banks in Sweden utilize the payment services behind the WikiLeaks blockade, they are breaking Swedish laws by denying Swedes the ability to donate to WikiLeaks.

According to the Pirate Party, Sweden’s banks are “actively participating in blocking transactions without a legitimate reason”.

“It’s frightening that we’re all forced to live by the morals of the American Bible Belt by the companies that handle our payments,” Pirate Party head Anna Troberg said in a statement.

“These companies happily deliver funds to the Ku Klux Klan, but not to WikiLeaks and other companies they view as immoral.”

As the banks singled out by the Pirate Party – Danske Bank in Sweden, Swedbank, Handelsbanken, Nordea, and SEB – all fall under the purview of Finansinspektionen, the party hopes the agency will take action to probe whether the banks are in violation of the law by failing to carry out transactions on behalf of their customers.

Speaking with the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, the head of Finansinspektionens payments division, Johan Terfelt, confirmed the agency had received the complaint and would assess whether there was reason to act.

“The law says that if there aren’t legal grounds for denying a payment, it should be carried out,” he said.

Examples of legal grounds included being unable to identify the recipient of the payment or if there are reasons to suspect the money may go to finance terrorism.

However, Terfelt refused to elaborate on exactly what responsibility Swedish banks had when a payment service provider like Visa orMastercard decides to block payments.

The Local/dl

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JULIAN ASSANGE

Assange will cooperate with Sweden, but fight US warrant: lawyer

Julian Assange would cooperate with Swedish authorities if they reopen a rape case against him but will continue to resist any bid to extradite him to the United States, his lawyer said Sunday.

Assange will cooperate with Sweden, but fight US warrant: lawyer
Julian Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson in London on Thursday. Photo: AP Photo/Matt Dunham/TT

“We are absolutely happy to answer those queries if and when they come up,” Jennifer Robinson told Sky News television about the rape claims.

“The key issue at the moment is US extradition, which we have warned about for many years,” she added.

The WikiLeaks founder is in custody in London awaiting sentencing for breaching his British bail conditions in 2012 by seeking refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.

He was arrested at the embassy on Thursday after Ecuador gave him up, and is now also fighting a US extradition warrant relating to the release by WikiLeaks of a huge cache of official documents.

The Australian has always denied the claims of sexual assault and rape in Sweden. The first expired in 2015 and the other was dropped in 2017, but the alleged rape victim has now asked for the case to be reopened.

If Stockholm makes a formal extradition request, the British government will have to decide whether to consider it before or after that of the United States.

Robinson said Assange would seek assurances from Sweden that he would not be sent on to America, saying: “That is the same assurance we were seeking in 2010 and the refusal to give that is why he sought asylum.”

She added: “He's not above the law. Julian has never been concerned about facing British justice or indeed Swedish justice. This case is and has always been about his concern about being sent to face American injustice.”

The US indictment charges Assange with “conspiracy” for working with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password stored on Department of Defence computers in March 2010.

He faces up to five years in jail.

Manning passed hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, exposing US military wrongdoing in the Iraq war and diplomatic secrets about scores of countries around the world.

The conspiracy charge against Assange seems intended to sidestep limits on prosecution potentially arising from the US Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of press freedom.

But Robinson insisted: “This indictment clearly engages newsgathering activities and the kinds of communications that journalists have with sources all the time.”

The lawyer condemned as “outrageous” claims made by Ecuador about Assange's behaviour in the embassy, including that he smeared his faeces on the wall, saying: “That's not true.”

Quito also accused him of failing to care for his cat. WikiLeaks said Assange had asked his lawyers to “rescue him (the cat) from embassy threats” in October, adding: “They will be reunited in freedom.”

Assange's father, John Shipton, on Sunday urged Australia to bring his son home.

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