PayPal has said that its decision to stop users from using its service to make donations to Wikileaks was made after advice from the US government.
A senior official at the online payments firm said the State Department had told it that the activities of the website were illegal in the US….
PayPal's clarification came from the firm's vice-president Osama Bedier.
He said the company had carried out its actions after receiving a letter from the State Department, adding that it was a "straightforward" decision.
I'd love to see that letter, and to learn what law the State Department believes the site has violated. [Updated below: Bedier now denies that his company was contacted directly by the government, and says that the State Department's "advice" consisted of a statement that was publicly avaliable.]
In other WikiLeaks news, here's the conservative columnist Marc Thiessen trying to be helpful:
Some say attacking WikiLeaks would be fruitless. Really?…Imagine the impact on WikiLeaks's ability to distribute additional classified information if its systems were suddenly and mysteriously infected by a worm that would fry the computer of anyone who downloaded the documents. WikiLeaks would probably have very few future visitors to its Web site.
Rob Beschizza reacts:
It all gives me this vision of Thiessen dreaming about single-handedly stopping Wikileaks by typing "OVERRIDE PASSWORD" into Julian Assange's laptop, then hitting the delete button after a stern British female voice declares "ACCESS GRANTED." Then there is a tense moment as a glowing neon blue progress bar slowly deletes Wikileaks, but will it finish before Julian returns from the virtual reality cyber conference with George Soros where they are laughing about having just gotten an oblivious Julian Sands thrown in jail?
Update: You can read the risible letter at TechCrunch. It points out that the WikiLeaks cables "were provided in violation of U.S. law," and then it claims: "As long as WikiLeaks holds such material, the violation of the law is ongoing." So I guess State is offering a variation on an old Homer Simpson line: "It takes two to leak. One to leak and one to listen."
Note, though, that the letter was written to WikiLeaks, not to PayPal, and that Bedier now says the State Department did not contact the company asking it to cut off the site.