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Bank of America cuts services for WikiLeaks

After threat to reveal 'unethical bank practices'

The Bank of America has joined the growing list of financial and technology companies that have cut off services to WikiLeaks, a move that comes amid speculation that the whistleblower site is preparing to release information about the bank.

"Bank of America joins in the actions previously announced by MasterCard, PayPal, Visa Europe and others, and will not process transactions of any type that we have reason to believe are intended for WikiLeaks," the bank said in a statement.

"This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."

The reaction from WikiLeaks, which on November 28 sparked global controversy as it began to publish leaked US department of State cables, was swift.

"Does your business do business with Bank of America?" said a Twitter message from WikiLeaks. "Our advice is to place your funds somewhere safer."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in an interview with CNBC last week that WikiLeaks would soon release information about banks. In an interview with Forbes magazine last month, he said WikiLeaks was prepared to reveal information on a bank that would show "unethical practices".

In the recent interviews, Assange did not name a specific bank, but last year, he said: "We are sitting on 5GB from Bank of America - one of the executives' hard drives."

At that time, Assange said WikiLeaks was mulling over how to present the data. "It's a difficult problem," he said. "We could just dump it all into one giant Zip file, but we know for a fact that has limited impact. To have impact, it needs to be easy for people to dive in and search it and get something out of it."

Wikileaks' recent release of US embassy cables sparked anger from governments and a rash of attacks between WikiLeaks detractors and supporters.

Amid the controversy, Amazon Web Services (AWS) knocked WikiLeaks from its servers for breaking the service's rules about content that could injure others. Mastercard, PayPal and other credit card institutions halted payment services for WikiLeaks.

The response was rapid, including pro-WikiLeaks denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

Assange's personal life, meanwhile, has been under scrutiny. Assange is wanted for questioning by the Swedish government regarding sexual assault allegations from two women related to incidents in August in the country. He was detained earlier this month in the UK after Sweden issued a warrant for his arrest. The UK High Court ruled that Assange could be freed on £240,000 in bail, pending a January extradition hearing.

See also: Police investigate WikiLeaks retaliation attacks

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