By JULIAN BARNES And JEANNE WHALEN
PayPal, the online payment service, on Friday joined a growing number of companies which either pulled or threatened to pull Internet-support services to the controversial document-leaking website.
PayPal, owned by online auction giant eBay Inc., said in a statement on its blog that it has permanently barred a donations account used by WikiLeaks because it had violated the service's "acceptable use policy.'' That policy states "our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity."
A PayPal spokesman was not immediately available for comment beyond the terse statement, which otherwise said only WikiLeaks had been notified of the action.
PayPal's move is a major blow to WikiLeaks, which has raised much of its funding through small donations processed by the payment system. WikiLeaks' website says it still accepts donations by bank transfer, and via credit-card payments processed by a firm called Datacell. It also accepts checks at a post-office box in Australia.
WikiLeaks had a brief hiccup with PayPal once before, when PayPal demanded explanations for a surge and subsequent fall in donations to WikiLeaks.
On Friday, WikiLeaks' Internet domain name, wikileaks.org, was inaccessible after a U.S. domain-name service provider, EveryDNS.net, said it had withdrawn service to WikiLeaks.
Meanwhile, France's industry minister said France was planning to stop a French company, OVH SAS, from hosting the WikiLeaks site, which he described as "criminal."