Card firms' block on WikiLeaks did not break rules - EU

BRUSSELS Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:07pm IST

MasterCard and VISA credit cards are seen in this illustrative photograph taken in Hong Kong December 8, 2010. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/Files

MasterCard and VISA credit cards are seen in this illustrative photograph taken in Hong Kong December 8, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip/Files

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A block on processing donations for WikiLeaks by Visa Europe (V.N) and other credit card companies is unlikely to have violated EU anti-trust rules, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

DataCell, a company that collected donations for WikiLeaks, complained to the Commission about Visa Europe, MasterCard Europe (MA.N) and American Express Co (AXP.N) after they stopped processing donations for WikiLeaks in December 2010. Their decisions followed criticism by the United States of WikiLeaks' release of thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables.

"On the basis of the information available, the Commission considers that the complaint does not merit further investigation because it is unlikely that any infringement of EU competition rules could be established," said a spokesman for the Commission, the EU executive.

He added, however, that the Commission would look at new information from DataCell before taking a final decision.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been staying in Ecuador's embassy in central London since June to avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations.

Assange said there were no lawful grounds for the card companies' actions, which he said had cost Wikileaks 95 percent of its revenue and threatened his organisation's existence.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Adrian Croft; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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