[freechelseamanningnet] honor the moral courage of the PayPal14

Support the PayPal14
Interview by Alexa O’Brien with Bernd Fix on the PayPal14, freedom and moral
courage on the Internet and WikiLeaks

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

Wau Holland Foundation launches campaign to honor the moral courage of the
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.“