ONLINE PAYMENT service PayPal has frozen the account of a group that had been raising funds in support of Bradley Manning, the US Army private suspected of passing on confidential US war documents and diplomatic messages to WikiLeaks.
Courage to Resist, a group founded to collect support funds for Manning’s legal defence, said yesterday PayPal had frozen its account, which was one of the main ways that international residents could make donations to support Manning.
A spokesperson for the Bradley Manning Support Network, which had been partnering with Courage to Resist, said the group had been “in discussions with PayPal for weeks, and by their own admission there’s no legal obligation for them to close down our account.”
Another claimed that PayPal was not willing to remove the restrictions placed on the account unless it was given the authorisation to withdraw some of the funds by default.
“Our accounting does not allow for this type of direct access by a third party,” the spokesman added, “nor do I trust PayPal as a business entity with this responsibility given their punitive actions against WikiLeaks”.
The action taken against WikiLeaks had been unwarranted, he continued, because the whistleblowing website had “not charged with any crime by any government on Earth.”
The PayPal account had been set up in 2006 but there were “no issues with this account,” Courage to Resist said, until supporters were specifically asked to provide donations for Manning’s defence.
Maning is widely considered the source of both the Afghan and Iraqi ‘war logs’ posted to WikiLeaks last year, as well as a possible source of the US diplomatic cables currently being published by the site.
He has been in solitary confinement at a military unit in Virginia since June 2010, and is not likely to face trial until autumn of this year. He is only allowed out of his cell for an hour a day, and is denied any exercise or access to the media.
The United Nations is continuing an investigation into his treatment, after suggestions his treatment was tantamount to torture.
WikiLeaks itself has seen PayPal block its fundraising accounts in the wake of the latter publication, while a number of banks worldwide had also frozen accounts set up to provide legal support for its founder, Julian Assange.
PayPal and the websites of a number of credit card companies were attacked by the hacktivist collective Anonymous in the wake of the moves.
The decision to freeze the account came hours before Assange lost his fight in a London court against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted on rape charges. Assange is set to appeal that decision.