WikiLeaks said it is close to running out of money, a problem the site blamed on Visa and MasterCard, which have prohibited users from donating to the site.
WikiLeaks' cash reserves have fallen from €800,000 ($983,600) in December 2010 to less than €100,000 at the end of June, the site said, adding that its funds would run out "within a few months" unless donations dramatically increase.
In the first six months of 2012, WikiLeaks said it spent €246,600 while collecting donations of just €32,800. According to a two-page financial report released by the German foundation that processes WikiLeaks' bills, in the first half of 2012 the site spent €20,000 on general and technical "infrastructure," €104,900 on "campaigns" and "external communications," €97,700 on logistics, €17,900 on legal advice and €6,100 on administration.
WikiLeaks said it needed to raise "a minimum of €1 million immediately" in order to "effectively continue its mission." In a news release, it said it has set up a new donation pathway through French credit card system Carte Bleue, which it said is "coupled with the Visa/MasterCard system globally."
"Visa and MasterCard are contractually barred from directly cutting off merchants through the Carte Bleue system," WikiLeaks said, adding that a French nonprofit group, the Fund for the Defense of Net Neutrality, has set up a Carte Bleue fund for WikiLeaks.
Benjamin Bayart, a representative of FDNN, said in an email that WikiLeaks supporters can use Carte Bleue to donate money to FDNN, which will then dispatch the funds to WikiLeaks per the donor's request. "But the donation itself is made to us, on our bank account...We are the only one to know which project will receive the funds," he said.
Visa and MasterCard didn't respond to requests for comment. Carte Bleue couldn't be reached for comment.
WikiLeaks' bank balance soared at the end of 2010, shortly after the site released its most high-profile U.S. government documents, including thousands of files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the site's finances steadily deteriorated over 2011, as WikiLeaks took in donations of €139,400 while spending €660,500, according to a 2011 financial report released Wednesday by Germany's Wau Holland Foundation.
Since last month WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living at Ecuador's embassy in London as he awaits Ecuador's decision on his political asylum application. Mr. Assange is attempting to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations that he raped one woman and molested another during a trip to Stockholm in 2010.
Mr. Assange hasn't been charged with a crime, and denies the allegations. He has waged a protracted legal battle to avoid extradition since his arrest in the U.K. in late 2010. Since then, three British courts, including the U.K. Supreme Court, have upheld Sweden's extradition request.