WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange has been arrested by UK police, with the official WikiLeaks shop accepting Dash after an outpouring of demand by supporters.
We now accept Dash on the shop through coinpayments
— WikiLeaks Shop (@WikiLeaksShop) April 12, 2019
After living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for over a half-decade, Julian Assange, the founder of government transparency platform WikiLeaks, was arrested by UK police this week after Ecuador tired of shielding him from arrest. Assange will likely face extradition to the US for publishing classified leaked documents which have been problematic for the US government.
Following the incident, some members of the Dash community came together to express support for Assange, including expressing wishes to donate to his legal defense and purchase supporter merchandise. In response, the WikiLeaks shop stated that they now accept Dash payments for merchandise. At time of writing the site did not yet accept Dash for donations.
How cryptocurrency enabled WikiLeaks to survive
My deepest thanks to the US government, Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman for pushing Visa, MasterCard, Payal, AmEx, Mooneybookers, et al, into erecting an illegal banking blockade against @WikiLeaks starting in 2010. It caused us to invest in Bitcoin — with > 50000% return. pic.twitter.com/9i8D69yxLC
— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) October 14, 2017
Decentralized digital currency and WikiLeaks have had a long joint history. Due to the controversial nature of their work, WikiLeaks has experienced multiple issues with various payment processors in what effectively constituted a banking blockade, blocking the organization from receiving crucial operational funding from traditional sources. This caused the organization to turn to decentralized cryptocurrency, which cannot be easily stopped or censored. As a result, WikiLeaks has obtained considerably more funding than otherwise would have occurred due to the astronomical rise of cryptocurrency valuations over the past decade.
Even when using cryptocurrency, however, WikiLeaks has experienced issues with payment processors. Coinbase famously blocked the WikiLeaks shop last year without notice, suspending all support for payment processing for merchandise, which resulted in public condemnation from the organization. Since then they have switched processors to CoinPayments, which supports a wide variety of cryptocurrencies with minimal restriction or required information.
The role of cryptocurrency in maintaining independent media
Decentralized payments systems and independent media have gone hand-in-hand, particularly during recent episodes of financial censorship from established processors and banking systems. Emmy Award-winning independent journalist Ben Swann, host of the highly popular and sometimes controversial news segment Reality Check, famously went offline for a year due to network pressures related to his content, and returned to the spotlight only thanks to a Dash sponsorship. Since then, decentralized funding platforms for content creators such as BitBacker have risen to prominence.