WikiLeaks bank account in Switzerland under scrutiny: Report

Sunday, December 5, 2010

GENEVA - Bank officials are looking at shutting down an account opened by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Switzerland, media reports said Sunday.

Postfinance spokesman Marc Andrey told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that in order to keep a regular bank account open, Assange would have to prove he obtained Swiss residence, owns property in the country or has business dealings in Switzerland.

The WikiLeaks website asks for donations to be sent to the Postfinance account for the so-called “Julian Assange Defence Fund”. Two other accounts, one in Iceland and the other in Germany, are also listed on the site for other types of funding requests.

WikiLeaks took a possible blow to its financial future last week when online money transfer services firm PayPal said it was shutting the whistleblower organisation’s account.

Assange himself is facing increased pressure, as he is wanted in Sweden for questioning in relation to charges of sexual offences filed against him by two women.

Also, US ambassador to Switzerland, Donald Beyer, told the newspaper Sonntag that the Swiss government should not grant asylum to Assange.

Last month, when visiting the Alpine land, Assange said he was considering moving his operations to the country and might even ask for protected status.

Assange has repeatedly said he feels threatened, and last week one Canadian former aid to the country’s premier said the WikiLeaks founder should be assassinated. In the US, politicians were also accusing him of terrorism and treason.

An Australian national, Assange is believed to be in Europe, and mostly communicates via online methods from hideouts.

WikiLeaks itself is struggling to stay online and its US-based host last week closed the website, which has since migrated to a Swiss address, but it is still coming under attacks.

The site is being transferred to new servers around Europe, supporters of the group have said.

On Nov 28, WikiLeaks began publishing 251,287 US embassy cables, the latest trove of confidential US documents to be made public. The process of releasing the material is still ongoing.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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