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TheStreet Open House

PayPal Cuts Off WikiLeaks' Account

By Juergen Baetz

BERLIN -- The online payment service provider PayPal has cut off the account used by WikiLeaks to collect donations, serving another blow to the organization just as it was struggling to keep its Web site accessible after an American company stopped directing traffic to it.

PayPal said in a blog posting that the move was prompted by a violation of its policy, "which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity."

The short notice was dated Friday, and a spokeswoman for PayPal Germany on Saturday declined to elaborate and referred to the official blog posting.

Donating money to WikiLeaks via PayPal on Saturday was not possible anymore, generating an error message saying "this recipient is currently unable to receive money."

PayPal is one of several ways WikiLeaks collects donations, and until now was probably the most secure and convenient way to support the organization.

The other options listed on WikiLeaks' Web site are through mail to an Australian post office box, through bank transfers to accounts in Switzerland, Germany or Iceland as well as through one "credit card processing partner" in Switzerland.

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WikiLeaks' PayPal account redirects users to a German foundation which provides the organization with the money. The Wau Holland Foundation, named after a German hacker, confirmed Saturday in a Twitter message that its PayPal account had been taken down because of the "financial support to WikiLeaks."

The foundation's president Winfried Motzkus earlier this week was quoted by his hometown Bielefeld's local newspaper Neue Westfaelische as saying that Wau Holland has so far collected 750,000 euros ($1 million) for WikiLeaks, covering the organization's expenses.

WikiLeaks' recent releases seem to have been a boon for the foundation, which has previously described itself as the organization's main financial backer.

On its Web site, the foundation says "the huge and in this form unique amount of donations has caused the delay of issuing contribution receipts" -- which allow Germans to deduct donations from their taxes.

Messages left for the foundation and for its president Motzkus were not immediately answered.

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