Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Bank of America cuts off WikiLeaks

Announcement comes as the embattled document-sharing site is reportedly readying a release that targets the banking giant.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
Expertise I have more than 30 years' experience in journalism in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Steven Musil
2 min read

Bank of America has added its name to a list of several financial institutions that have refused to process payments for WikiLeaks as the site reportedly readies a document release that targets the banking giant.

"This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments," the bank announced late yesterday.

The announcement comes on the heels of similar moves made by MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal earlier this month, which have limited WikiLeaks' ability to raise funds to support its Web site's operation. Those institutions' Web sites subsequently came under cyberattack by a hacker group in retaliation for the moves.

The Bank of America decision comes as WikiLeaks is reportedly readying a document dump that targets BofA. Julian Assange, the founder of the embattled document-sharing Web site, told Forbes in November that he was readying a release of documents related to the activities of an American bank, but he did not identify the bank. However, during a 2009 interview with Computerworld, Assange said he had 5GB of data from a Bank of America executive's hard drive.

WikiLeaks responded to the announcement by urging its supporters to stop doing business with Bank of America.

"We ask that all people who love freedom close out their accounts at Bank of America," WikiLeaks said on its Twitter page. "Does your business do business with Bank of America? Our advice is to place your funds somewhere safer."

Assange, who was the subject of an arrest warrant related to sex allegations, was released from a London prison on Thursday after posting bail of 200,000 British pounds, or about $316,000. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is reportedly piecing together a case against him for publishing classified Army and State Department files.