Wikileaks in Iceland court victory over payments blockade

Julian Assange
Image caption Mr Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden

Wikileaks has won a victory in Iceland's Supreme Court against a financial blockade on payments to the whistle-blowing site.

The court upheld a district court's ruling that MasterCard's local partner, Valitor, illegally ended its contract with Wikileaks.

Several US financial firms stopped processing payments to Wikileaks after it published US diplomatic cables.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange called the ruling a victory for free speech.

Wikileaks is taking similar legal action in other countries, including Denmark, over the payments ban, and has complained to the European Union that it constitutes anti-competitive behaviour.

Visa and MasterCard were among financial firms to pull the plug on Wikileaks following its decision to begin publishing about 250,000 US State Department emails, letters and other information in late 2010.

WikiLeaks has said the financial blockade led to a 95% fall in revenue, mostly from donations.

The Iceland court warned Valitor on Wednesday that it would be fined 800,000 Icelandic krona (£4,400) per day if the processing of Wikileaks donations was not re-opened within 15 days.

Mr Assange - currently living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London and fighting extradition to Sweden - told the AP news agency: "We thank the Icelandic people for showing that they will not be bullied by powerful Washington-backed financial services companies like Visa.

"And we send out a warning to the other companies involved in this blockade - you're next."

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