WikiLeaks faces donations blow as it fights for survival

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WikiLeaks faced a fresh threat to its survival on Saturday as the online payment service PayPal cut off the account used for donations to the whistle-blowing website.

WikiLeaks is already fighting to stay on the Internet. It had to switch its domain to Switzerland because its original web address was shut down by a US provider, as it continues to release tens of thousands of classified US diplomatic cables.

At the same time Sweden has issued an amended international arrest warrant for WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, who is believed to be in Britain, and The Times newspaper, citing police sources, reported he could be arrested next week.

However, other reports said police were unlikely to move to detain the 39-year-old Australian for at least 10 days.

Assange's London-based lawyer Mark Stephens told AFP he was not aware whether authorities in Britain had yet received the international arrest warrant, which was issued in relation to allegations of rape and sexual molestation.

However, Stephens confirmed that any potential arrest of his client would take place by arrangement.

He added: "The last warrant took 10 days to come through, we know that it was incompetently filled out, so another one was sent on Friday.

"So I expect another 10 days, unless of course they are going to treat Julian Assange differently than anyone else."

In a new blow to the website, the US-based PayPal, which is owned by auctions group eBay, announced overnight that it would stop taking donations for WikiLeaks thus blocking a key source of its income.

"PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal acceptable use 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," it said in a statement.

WikiLeaks blamed "US government pressure" for the PayPal ban, in a message on its Twitter feed.

Meanwhile, some targets of the sometimes brutally frank US diplomats' assessments threw doubt on their credibility.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said at least one of the incidents described in a cable which portrayed him as corrupt and weak could not have happened as described, while he dismissed others as an attempt by US officials to discredit him and his government.

In one cable, US diplomats said one of Karzai's deputies had transported 52 million dollars out of the country in suitcases, a claim Karzai rejected.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday she had contacted dozens of foreign leaders to smooth over any frictions and will continue to do so for "the next weeks".

"I haven't seen everybody in the world, and apparently there are 252,000 of these things (leaks) out there in cyberspace somewhere," she said, noting that all of them had not yet been published.

"So I think I'll have some outreach to continue doing over the next weeks just to make sure that as things become public, if they raise concerns, I will be prepared to reach out and talk to my counterparts and heads of state and governments," she added.

The release marked the third major publication of secret US files by WikiLeaks this year, after the site had published tens of thousands of US military files from the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

WikiLeaks was forced to turn to Switzerland for a new domain name after its original address was shut down by an American provider, while Paris tried to ban French servers from hosting it.

The Swiss domain -- -- was up and running again on Saturday after migrating to new servers, the group which owns the name said.

Assange had broken cover on Friday to say in an online chat that he had boosted security after receiving death threats amid the storm that was unleashed by his site's decision to publish the cables.

© 2010 AFP

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