Just hours after it was revealed that PayPal had frozen the account of the Bradley Manning Support Network, a group raising funds for alleged Wikileaker Pfc. Bradley Manning, the payment processing giant backed down after public pressure to restore access to the account.
In just 8 hours, more than 15,000 Firedoglake activists signed a letter to PayPal demanding the company “drop its unreasonable demands of the Bradley Manning Support Network and restore access to the group’s PayPal account.” Here’s how Jeff Paterson, Project Director of Courage to Resist and member of the Bradley Manning Support Network’s steering committee, described the victory:
We have spent nearly a month trying to resolve this matter with senior PayPal staff. Only after a conference call in which their chief compliance officer bluntly stated that our account would be permanently restricted and our funds returned in 180 days did we issue this morning’s statement on the matter.
I little while ago I received an email from the PayPal machine, “Hello Courage to Resist, Our review is complete and we have restored your account.” Upon logging into the PayPal account, we’re now greeted with, “Your Account Access is Back in Regular Standing. Thank you for taking the steps to return your account to regular standing…”
Thank you to all of our supporters – many of whom contacted PayPal individually or signed the petition hosted by Firedoglake – who helped us restore our account. We are extremely grateful to everyone who raised their voice today. While PayPal was never a primary channel for our online donors, it is especially valuable to our international supporters who do not use US-based credit cards or checks. I hope you will now help us get back to our real work in support of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning.
Paterson had words of warning for any organization using PayPal:
PayPal insisted on excessive measures for the soldier’s support organization to retain access to PayPal’s services, “They opted to apply an exceptional hurdle for us to clear in order to continue as a customer, whereas we had clearly provided the legally required information and verification. I think our dealings with PayPal should be a cautionary tale for any possibly controversial not-for-profit entity with a PayPal account,” Paterson said. “While there may be no legal obligation to provide services, there is an ethical obligation. By shutting out legitimate nonprofit activity, PayPal has shown itself to be morally bankrupt.”
This is an incredible victory for Bradley Manning, and for supporters of a free and open debate on Manning and Wikileaks. Thank you to everyone who took action with Firedoglake. You can donate to Bradley’s legal defense fund, as well as donate to the Bradley Manning Advocacy Fund, new public advocacy effort to support Bradley’s case in the media.