By John Fahey
The whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks today announced it was suspending its publishing operations and will "aggressively" launch a new fundraising drive.
The website, behind the publication of hundreds of thousands of controversial secret US files and diplomatic cables, announced it was running low on cash reserves after "an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade" by the Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union.
A statement issued by WikiLeaks said: "The blockade is outside of any accountable, public process.
"It is without democratic oversight or transparency.
"The US government itself found that there were no lawful grounds to add WikiLeaks to a US financial blockade.
"But the blockade of WikiLeaks by politicised US finance companies continues regardless."
Julian Assange, the former computer hacker behind WikiLeaks, said the blockade had destroyed 95% of its revenue and cost tens of millions of pounds in lost donations during the last 11 months.
He said: "Our scarce resources now must focus on fighting the unlawful banking blockade.
"If this financial attack stands unchallenged, a dangerous, oppressive and undemocratic precedent will have been set, the implications of which go far beyond WikiLeaks and its work.
"Any organisation that falls foul of powerful finance companies or their political allies can expect similar extrajudicial action.
"Greenpeace, Amnesty International and other international NGOs that work to expose the wrongdoing of powerful players risk the same fate as WikiLeaks.
"If publishing the truth about war is enough to warrant such aggressive action by Washington insiders, all newspapers that have published WikiLeaks' materials are on the verge of having their readers and advertisers blocked from paying their subscriptions."