WikiLeaks Cut by Visa, MasterCard

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Visa ( V) and MasterCard ( MA) are cutting ties to controversial website WikiLeaks.

The actions are the latest moves by payment firms and authorities to further limit WikiLeaks' source of revenue over the last week. Swiss authorities apparently shut down a bank account used by founder and editor Julian Assange, while PayPal said it would no longer do business with WikiLeaks.

"Visa Europe has taken action to suspend Visa payment acceptance on WikiLeaks' website pending further investigation into the nature of its business and whether it contravenes Visa operating rules," a Visa spokesman said in an emailed statement.

MasterCard said that it was ceasing a relationship with WikiLeaks because of alleged illegal activity engagement by the site, according to a CNET report. A MasterCard spokesman said that it is "taking action to ensure that WikiLeaks can no longer accept MasterCard-branded products."

If Visa and MasterCard permanently blocks payments to WikiLeaks, electronic donations will be severely limited, with most transactions going through a web page hosted by Iceland-based DataCell.com and using a Visa ( V) credit card.

WikiLeaks and Assange have been barraged in the financial media recently, after Forbes published an interview with the founder in which he said he cultivated several gigabytes of information off of one financial executive's hard drive. Assange plans to reportedly release the information in early 2011.

The information supposedly could "take down a bank or two," he told Forbes.

Speculation ensued by Forbes and other media outlets that the bank Assange was targeting was embattled Bank of America ( BAC).

Assange was further in the news this week after reports surfaced that he was arrested by British police on a warrant issued by Sweden. He surrendered to London police on Tuesday. Assange is wanted in Sweden on suspicion of committing sexual crimes, allegations he denies, reports said.

MasterCard shares were slipping 0.5% to $251.98. Visa shares were also falling Tuesday 0.5% to $77.90.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact the writer of this article, click here: Laurie Kulikowski.

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