|By Maureen O'Gara||
|December 6, 2010 01:34 PM EST||
PostFinance, the Swiss Post Office bank, has closed the account that WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange opened after PayPal late Friday closed the one the renegade site has been using to collect donations.
The Swiss Post bank said Monday morning that it found "Assange provided false information regarding his place of residence when opening the account."
The statement on the bank's web site adds that "The Australian citizen provided false information regarding his place of residence during the account opening process. Assange entered Geneva as his domicile. Upon inspection, this information was found to be incorrect. Assange cannot provide proof of residence in Switzerland and thus does not meet the criteria for a customer relationship with PostFinance. For this reason, PostFinance is entitled to close his account. If there is any indication that the information provided by an account holder may not comply with the detailed valid provisions, PostFinance investigates the circumstances in detail and draws the appropriate conclusions."
Since PayPal pulled the plug, WikiLeaks has been advertising the details of the PostFinance account in the name of "Assange, Julian Paul, Geneve" as the place to "donate directly to the Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks Staff Defence Fund."
In response WikiLeaks issued a press release saying that €31,000 ($41,267) had been frozen after the bank "reviewed" Assange as a "high profile individual," adding that "The technicality used to seize the defense fund was that Mr. Assange, as a homeless refugee attempting to gain residency in Switzerland, had used his lawyers address in Geneva for the bank's correspondence."
It said PayPal froze €60,000, close to $80,000.
"One of the most fascinating aspects of the Cablegate exposure," it went on, "is how it is throwing into relief the power dynamics between supposedly independent states like Switzerland, Sweden and Australia.
"WikiLeaks also has public bank accounts in Iceland (preferred) and Germany.
"Please help cover our expenditures while we fight to get our assets back."
Although in hiding, reportedly in the south of England, for fear of his life as well as extradition to Sweden or the U.S., Assange has been giving interviews and has suggested that he might seek asylum in Switzerland although Ecuador has offered him refuge.
Wired says that "most of the over $1 million in contributions WikiLeaks has drawn in the last year have come through its PayPal account" and the Financial Times quoted WikiLeaks as saying "its operational costs have been three times higher than it expected at the beginning of the year." It is not clear whether that includes Assange's mounting legal bills.
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