WikiLeaks has been forced to suspend publishing owing to what founder Julian Assange has branded a “financial blockade”.

The whistleblowing website seemed to make some enemies when it released tens of thousands of classified diplomatic cables in late 2010. Many of these related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as, shall we say,  “frank comments” about world leaders by US diplomats. 

Assange said in a statement that “an arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade has been imposed by Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union”, and added that “the attack has destroyed 95 percent of our revenue”.

Assange claimed that donations had fallen by around €93,000 a month in 2011.

WikiLeaks is suspending publishing to fight the financial blockade and raise new funds.

The company said in a statement: “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.”

Assange’s accusations apparently went further, as news agencies quote him as insisting: “The blockade came into force within 10 days of the launch of Cablegate as part of a concerted US-based, political attack that included vitriol by senior right-wing politicians, including assassination calls against WikiLeaks staff.”

He continued: “We have commenced pre-litigation action against the blockade in Iceland, Denmark, the UK, Brussels, the United States and Australia.

“We have lodged an anti-trust complaint at the European Commission and expect a decision by mid-November as to whether the European Commission Authority will open a full investigation into the wrongdoing of Visa and MasterCard.”

Assange is currently fighting extradition from the UK to Sweden to answer allegations of sexual misconduct.