Notorious nonprofit journalistic organization WikiLeaks revealed via Twitter on 24th January that the majority of its public funding now comes through bitcoin and litecoin donations.
The tweet included a link to its official donation page, which lists major mainstream channels like American Express, MasterCard and PayPal. The organisation also accepts traditional bank transfers and Visa as other payment options.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 24, 2014
The message included WikiLeaks’ official Blockchain.info address, which has received 3,855 BTC to date from more than 2,200 transactions.
A detailed look at WikiLeaks’ payment history shows a spike in support this December when it received 56 BTC (46,444.68 USD).
Bitcoin and WikiLeaks: a history of support
The announcement demonstrates that bitcoin supporters continue to play a key role in supporting the whistleblower organisation, famous for its release of almost 400,000 documents related to US involvement and actions in the Iraq War.
This past June, WikiLeaks raised 7.18 BTC to support exiled former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee and National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked details of US government surveillance programs that caused widespread public outrage and eventually spawned contentious reform in the US.
Snowden has been living in asylum in Russia after the country granted him a one-year stay to delay his potential incarceration for the leaks in the US. The 30-year-old North Carolina native has deepened his relationship with WikiLeaks founder Assange in recent weeks, with Assange informing the press of Snowden’s actions and commenting on his treatment in interviews.
One reason virtual currency has become the preferred payment method of WikiLeaks is that it allows the organisation to circumvent traditional payment process, such as Bank of America, MasterCard, PayPal and Visa, all of which moved to block its donations in 2010, the height of its controversy.
Speaking to CoinDesk in June, Tuur Demeester, formerly of MacroTrends, elaborated on the relationship between the news agency and virtual currencies:
“WikiLeaks supporters know their donations cannot be blocked and that funds that are not used immediately will appreciate over time.”
Demeester went on to suggest that the high level of donations showed that free speech and privacy were two rights shared by bitcoin users and WikiLeaks.
As of press time, WikiLeaks received eight bitcoin donations for a total of 15.17 BTC (12,579 USD) on 24th January.