(Source: Orion Pictures)

Wikileaks' campaign against the U.S. has resulted in the termination of its primary hosting account, on Amazon's EC2, and its primary donations account, on Paypal.  (Source: AP/AFP)

Paypal claims Wikileaks is supporting crime. It terminated the site's account, Wikileaks primary source of donations.  (Source: MRR2)
Payment service says Wikileaks supports crime

Wikileaks, a rebellious site which shares the stolen secrets of powerful businesses and governments, has long enjoyed a steady stream of funding from donors in the U.S. and abroad.  While the site is largely staffed by volunteers, that funding pays for serving costs and small payments to a skeleton staff of regulars.  According to some, it also helps finance a lavish lifestyle for site founder Julian Assange who is known for his expensive fashion tastes and constant travel, which he has stated is in an effort to escape prosecution for his site's activity.

But the happy days of steady funding may be at an end for the site.  Its primary funding source -- a Paypal account -- has been terminated.  In a blog post, Paypal says that it became aware of the account, which was in violation of its terms of service "which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity."

Information War With the U.S.

While some contend that Wikileaks carries out a Robin Hoodesque campaign of "just crime", the site relies largely on information theft to fuel its cyperespionage campaign.  Some nations like the U.S. grant leniency to whistleblowers who reveal government wrongdoing.  However, recent leaks go well beyond that, sharing secrets that have little to do with government wrongdoing, but are harmful to international diplomacy. Thus the U.S. and other nations have contended that Wikileaks and its allies indeed are conducting themselves in a criminal fashion.

Allies of Wikileaks contend that the site is not targeting the U.S. specifically, but is rather combating misconduct worldwide.  Statistics clearly disagree.

Over 95 percent of the materials published on the site are stolen U.S. documents.  Over the past few years the site has almost wholeheartedly directed its campaign of information warfare against the U.S.  Of the remaining 5 percent, most of it comes from Middle Easter allies of the U.S., such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

The site's highest profile leaks have been the release of 250,000 classified U.S. State Department cables and 90,000 Afghanistan war memos.  Leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban insurgency have praised Wikileaks for releasing this information, which they say can be used to hunt down and murder allies of the U.S.

Wiklieaks has announced its intention to next target the American business sector, releasing embarrassing details on a major American bank.

The U.S. Governments, Businesses Strike Back

In its campaign against the U.S., Wikileaks, may have bitten off more than it can chew, though.

Earlier this week the site was dumped from Amazon's EC2 hosting service, after a Homeland Security official complained to Amazon.  The site is now hosted Bahnhof, a Swedish hosting service housed inside an unusual lair-like cave.  The MIT Technology Review writes:
If Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is trying to turn himself into a Bond villain, he's succeeded: the ongoing distributed denial of service attack against Wikileaks has forced his minions to move the site to a fortified data center [Bahnhof] encased in a cold war-era, nuke-proof bunker encased in bedrock. Really.
Now its funding has been cut. 

The Paypal account was not in the name of Wikileaks, but rather in the name of The Wau Holland Foundation.  The foundation was named after a deceased German hacker of the same name, who found the infamous Chaos Computer Club (CCC) in 1981. The Wau Holland Foundation president Winfried Motzkus recently stated that the account had been used to funnel €750,000 ($1M USD) into the site.

Now that the Paypal account is down, Wikileaks' donors are only left with a handful of options -- sending money through the mail to an Australian post office box, making a bank transfer to an account in Switzerland, Germany or Iceland; or sending funds to a "credit card processing partner" in Switzerland."

Those who considering sending money may want to think twice.  Given that the U.S. has accused Wikileaks of criminal activity, mail and bank donations may be terminated en route.  And those who give large amounts may find themselves part of the broad investigation into Wikileaks criminal wrongdoing.

To top off its funding and hosting troubles, Wikileaks' prime government informant, U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning, is currently sitting in military prison awaiting treason charges.  Mr. Manning is responsible for the State Department and military leaks.  He made the leaks after becoming bitter following a demotion.  Without the help of its best informant it remains to be seen if the Wikileaks can continue to find stolen information from the U.S. government.

The site was certainly brazen when it decided to target the world's most powerful nation.  But its boldness has been punished, leaving the site with a bitter taste in its mouth. Its informant rests in prison, its funding is being cut off, and it has been forced onto unstable hosting.  Given these issues, the site may have trouble continuing to grab attention in the international spotlight.

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