WikiLeaks has reported on Twitter that its merchandising subsidiary, WikiLeaks Shop, has had its account blocked with Coinbase, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.

The Tweet shows an alleged email from Coinbase stating that WikiLeaks Shop had violated the cryptocurrency exchange’s terms of service, although as yet the exchange has made no further comment on their action.

The online shop, originally opened in 2011 and run by the German merchandising company Spreadshirt AG, sends proceeds from sales to WikiLeaks operations. Customers can pay for merchandise in a number of cryptocurrencies.

As a result of the block, whistleblower organization WikiLeaks is calling for a global blockade on Coinbase urging its customers to boycott the company.

Last year, after the US banking embargo against WikiLeaks, its leader, Julian Assange, publicly thanked the US government for forcing his organization into relying on Bitcoin donations, reportedly giving WikiLeaks a 50,000% return:

“My deepest thanks to the US government, Senator McCain, and Senator Lieberman for pushing Visa, MasterCard, Paypal, AmEx, Moneybookers, et al, into erecting an illegal banking blockade against WikiLeaks starting in 2010. It caused us to invest in Bitcoin with > 50,000% returns.”

WikiLeaks embargoes have proved not be uncommon. Berlin-based freedom of information campaigners Wau Holland collected almost USD 1.4 million for the organization until it was blocked by PayPal in 2010. On this occasion, reasons were given with PayPal citing “activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity” as the reason.

Andreas M Antonopoulos, the Greek-British Bitcoin advocate, commented that the Coinbase move demonstrates that “we have come full circle”. He suggests that one of the key factors of early interest in cryptocurrency was sparked by the 2010 WikiLeaks embargo.

Antonopoulos suggests that unlike the first embargo, this one is “purely symbolic” as there are now a plethora of crypto exchanges operating apart from Coinbase.


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