WikiLeaks blockade based on Australia’s misinfo


blog Remember how Mastercard and VISA blockaded donations to whistleblower site WikiLeaks, cutting off the organisation’s main source of funds in a move which appeared designed to hobble the site and the activities of its maverick founder Julian Assange before they got too far out of hand? Well, that activity is still ongoing, and outspoken Crikey writer Bernard Keane has dug into why. According to Keane (and as usual, we recommend you click here for the full article), part of the problem is that the card groups are still relying on outdated comments by Australia’s Federal Government:

“Giant US financial intermediary Visa is partly relying on the Gillard government’s claims that WikiLeaks acted “illegally” to justify its ongoing financial blockade of the whistleblower and media outlet, new material obtained by WikiLeaks has revealed.”

Given that the statements by then-Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Prime Minister Julia Gillard about Assange’s supposed criminality have been discredited by the Australian Federal Police, which has said there is no evidence that Assange has broken Australian law with his activities, it seems incumbent upon the Federal Government to issue a new statement on the situation. The Assange camp certainly appears to feel like something should be done — after all, it’s still debating suing Gillard for defamation. Perhaps it’s time for a Prime Ministerial mea culpa? Or at least a token effort by the current AG, Nicola Roxon? Fair go, Labor.

Image credit: Surian Soosay, Creative Commons


  1. I don’t know why it’s being debated – Wikileaks should absolutely sue Ms Gillard for her (public, highly damaging and completely baseless) statements. And I’m not a Gillard basher, in these times where it seems to be flavour of the month to do so – regardless of her government’s failure to support Mr Assange in the face of threats from foreign nations, regardless of any opinion on her competence or likeability in any other area, the unavoidable facts remain that her statements about Wikileaks were way out of line and have led to gross hardship, personal, financial and political damage suffered by Mr Assange and his organisation Wikileaks. If this isn’t the very definition of slander I am incapable of thinking how it could possibly be any more clear-cut.

  2. Excellent article Renai, it would actually serve our Government well to recognise when they are in error, they’d be far more effective if they could stop equating intransigence with strength.

  3. It’s pretty disgusting that Julia actually made the comments she did about Wikileaks and Julian with no evidence/facts what so ever.

    Considering the AWU thing though, she’s also pretty hypocritical about it as well, why should TA apologise to her when she wont apologise to Julian/Wikileaks for the same baseless BS

    i guess what goes around, comes around…

  4. If you think Visa make decisions based on what our PM says, maybe she should suggest they lower the rates…. oh wait its just an excuse to blame something on the PM.

  5. After sympathising with the PM after the pissant posturings of Abbott and his toothless attack dogs, bassett Bishop and poodle Pyne, the reminder of the cowardly and calculated Assange assault by Gillard and the best forgotten mutt McClelland brings up the ‘paybacks a bitch’ scenario… a pox on all of the craven hounds on both sides…

  6. I thought only individuals could be sued for defamation? Or is WL talking about suing for something else like loss of income….and the media is munging the facts. Can someone who knows about law enlighten me?

    • I am no Lawyer, but if my memory serves me correctly, the PM actually made the statement outside of the Parliament to the Media. I think that makes her personally responsible for her accusations/statements. There are a lot of laws about slander. But I love the fact that the big Finance companies are using just the word of an individual to back up a concerted financial blockade of an Organisation that their “friends” do not like.
      Can I say that I think their credit rates are too high and their Executive doesn’t have the worth to extract such high remuneration. If they can do a financial blockade on someone on a person’s word, I wonder if my statement is enough to enact a firm equal response? Somehow I think not, as it is not what they really want to do and blockading WikiLeaks they did want to do. Seems any old excuse will do and never let the truth get in the way. The US way is “Do as we say, not as we do.”

      • Sure, I already understand all the statements you raised. What I meant to say was “only individuals can sue for defamation”. In other words as far as I understood it a company cannot be “defamed” – only a person can be. There must be another legal term for companies who have their financial interests adversely affected by the statements of individuals.

        • Hmmm, not sure on that considering people get done by Corporations all over the world, as the Company say they have had some sort of “loss” due to whatever someone “said”. They also tend to hype up the loss, in order to gain even more profit from any opportunity.
          Technically you may be correct, but Corporations (especially US or Multinational ones) always seem to have more rights than the Individual in these days of revised laws that have been changed to something that seems intent of making any rights of the Individual be neutralised, or outranked by Business Law.

          Wait till the TPP is shoved on us and we may as well just give up on Democracy as it will just be a sham, along with a more draconian set of “Laws” of which we will have no say at all about.
          Do you want Oligarchic Plutocracy with your rigor mortised Democracy? Labor and Coalition both are wanting it and talking it up all around the Pacific. I doubt the Aussie people do want it though, as we are not allowed to know what it says.
          But then you know they are working for you, because they say they are! That is all you need to be real these days it seems. Which gets back to the original point of “He said She said” being legal enough to do anything or believe anything that is convenient for you. Just ask “Limited News” how well it works for them!

  7. Yes, a company can absolutely be defamed and sued for such. It is actually a huge problem in Australia because a company can file a suit based on damages in the millions, automatically putting the case into a court that will cost a defendant over $100k just to step in the room. There are also no legal protections for websites against statements made by users (such as in a forum), nor is ‘truth’ necessarily a defence because the plaintif can claim that the statements were malicious and intended to do harm. Which all sets up a situation that is extremely hostile to the idea of free speech and any public criticism of the practices of large business or wealthy individuals.

    As for liability in this case, politicians are only protected from defamation on the floor of a sitting parliament. She made those comments in a televised statement, so she has no legal recourse to defend it (other than to claim she ‘believed the statements to be true and accurate at the time’, which shouldn’t hold water as the PM should never issue such statements without making use of their significant resources to check, but that won’t stop a court from finding in her favour because to do otherwise may set an uncomfortable precedent).

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