Support the PayPal14
(PayPal14 and WHS at the 31C3 in Hamburg, Dec. 2014)
When the account of the Wau Holland Foundation was blocked by PayPal in December 2010 for having allegedly - as stated in PayPal's letter to us - "encourage[d], promote[d], facilitate[d] or instruct[ed] others to engage in illegal activity" by donating to WikiLeaks, thousands of activists worldwide participated in a digital sit-in to express their disapproval of the blockade. For that purpose the PayPal website was invoked so often by the demonstrators that the servers were temporarily overstrained and unable to handle any further requests.
14 demonstrators were arbitrarily prosecuted from the masses who participated. These fourteen were indicted "under the "Computer Fraud and Abuse Act" despite PayPal publicly declaring that the digital sit-in did not disrupt their services at any time and no computer has been damaged or compromised.
The defendants were threatened with severe jail sentences and fines. To support the PayPal14 and their act of moral courage against an unjust financial blockade against the Wau Holland Foundation we kindly ask you for donations.
May,19th 2014: Press release og the Wau Holland Foundation
May,25th 2014: Interview by Alexa O'Brien with the Wau Holland Foundation
June,2nd 2014: Article from Jeremy Hammond in support of the PayPal14
June,6th 2014: Interview with Stanley Cohen (lawyer)
June,30th 2014: Interview with Michael Ratner (CCR)
Video-Statement von Michael Ratner (CCR)
Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. Michael Ratner and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He is well known for his human rights activism and the author of numerous books, including "The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld" and "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in Twenty-First-Century America" (co-authored with Margaret Ratner Kunstler). His current books include "Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder." Michael Ratner is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange.
Video statement from Stanley Cohen (lawyer)
Stanley Cohen (Attorney at Law) is a political activist and criminal defense attorney. He defends Mercedes Haefer from the PayPal14 in court.
Jeremy Hammond: In Support of #PayPal14 Fundraising Drive
When the banks, credit card corporations and PayPal imposed a financial blockade on WikiLeaks, Anonymous fought back with the largest coordinated electronic civil disobedience sit-in in history, inspiring others to take up the banner of hacktivism.
Outgunned and humiliated on the internet, PayPal went to their allies in law enforcement who arrested over a dozen suspected Anonymous members now known as the PayPal 14. Despite never having "exceeded authorized access," the PayPal 14 were charged under the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) for what would typically result in misdemeanor trespassing or a disorderly conduct charge for the real world protest equivalent.
In addition to the second-class citizen status of a felony conviction, PayPal demanded an artificially inflated amount owed to them in restitution, totaling approximately $80,000. To complete the dog-and-pony show, should the fourteen meet the terms of their plea agreement, the felony will transfer to a misdemeanor on their record, while still showing, for statistical purposes, a CFAA felony win for the FBI. It is an unjust public shaming ritual that has adversely affected the lives of these 14 brave individuals. The PayPal 14 alone should not have to pay a multi-billion dollar corporation for an action in which tens of thousands of us participated in, which caused no actual loss or damage.
It is unfortunate (but not surprising) that wealthy social engineers such as Pierre Omidyar pay lip service to our cause but only after plea deals have been hammered out and outrageous restitutions imposed. This allows him to gain sympathy from the public while still advancing his own financial interests – his companies can still reap the benefit of the status quo, while crushing the free speech of ordinary working people and independent publishers.
Fortunately, the PayPal 14 are not alone. Our movement is only as strong as our ability to support those who get scapegoated. The PayPal 14 should not have to take all the weight of the restitution by themselves. It could have been any one of us, and so it is on us to help raise some funds.
Please donate to the PayPal 14 to help defray the costs of the restitution!
Interview by Alexa O'Brien with Bernd Fix
Wau Holland Foundation launches campaign to honor the moral courage of the PayPal14
The prominent German charity, the Wau Holland Foundation, the owner of the account blockaded by PayPal in 2010, launches campaign to raise restitution owed by 14 individuals, who were unfairly prosecuted for a peaceful digital sit-in.
BERLIN, GERMANY – To support the act of moral courage by fourteen individuals, who were prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice for a peaceful digital sit-in against a December 2010 financial blockade of the PayPal account owned by the Wau Holland Foundation, a campaign has been launched to raise the $80,000 (U.S.) in restitution owed to PayPal by the fourteen. All monies raised will be evenly split among the defendants. Donations are tax-deductible in the European Union. Donations can be made at their website.
BERLIN, GERMANY – When PayPal closed the account of the Wau Holland Foundation, thousands of people across the globe participated in a peaceful digital sit-in to express their disapproval at the extra-legal sanctions levied against the Wau Holland Foundation and against WikiLeaks, an on-line publisher of suppressed information. The protest was also against the attempted censorship of the press and a then unknown U.S. military whistle-blower, Chelsea Manning, by U.S. financial services companies.
WikiLeaks was just one of many important projects supported by the Wau Holland Foundation. Other project include for example: 'alpha-bit-ization' projects, which help people - especially children - cross the digital divide by teaching them computer technology through hands-on experiences; and Wau Holland's support for the operation of the Tor network infrastructure, as well as many other smaller projects and campaigns that help to protect and strengthen civil rights in the digital domain. All these projects were financially sanctioned as a result of the PayPal blockade.
The extra-legal sanctions by PayPal were part of a wider financial blockade against WikiLeaks that included the Wau Holland Foundation. As a result the foundation lost its charitable status in January 2011. Wau Holland was able to regain its charitable status after a two year long legal battle with supervising authorities.
Despite PayPal publicly declaring that the digital sit-in did not disrupt their services and admission that no computer was actually damaged or compromised, the Department of Justice arbitrarily indicted fourteen people, accusing them of offenses under the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The fourteen were then threatened with long jail sentences. PayPal is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ebay. PayPal and Ebay acted as the criminal complainant in the case.
The PayPal 14 case is a litmus test for the rights of people to peacefully dissent in the digital age.
"There is no difference between democratic rights on the Internet and those in the physical world. That includes any legitimate form of political protest (digital direct action) from free speech to petitions, boycotts to sit-ins. It is neither good for society nor for the Internet when companies or governments extra-legally declare such actions criminal or even terrorist acts," says Bernd Fix, a member of the board of the Wau Holland Foundation.
The fourteen individuals represent diverse backgrounds and political perspectives. They are parents and students, homemakers and political activists. They still face the threat of severe jail sentences if they appear to violate their plea agreement reached last year. For this reason, they are unable to speak publicly about the case. Some defendants' lives have been so adversely affected by the Department of Justice's over-zealous prosecution that they simply wish to conclude the matter privately and move forward.
Stanley Cohen, counsel to one of the defendants states, "The PayPal 14 stood against the tide of political orthodoxy and repression and in the finest tradition of dissent and free speech said, 'No.' Representing a long tradition of resistance and self-sacrifice, the PayPal 14 refused to remain silent while the government and its corporate allies at Ebay and PayPal sought to hide U.S. crimes. The PayPal 14 took action as a collective, was prosecuted as a collective, and for three years they have fought to reach a resolution that was in the best interests of the entire collective in the tradition of free and robust speech for which they all sacrificed. This collective needs our support to close this particular chapter of resistance and to move forward. Please donate."
Download the complete press release (German and English) as a PDF.