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    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, May 19, 2017

    'US is Determined to Block Freedom of Speech in Form of WikiLeaks' – Lawyer

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    WikiLeaks has called for a global blockade of Coinbase after its online store was banned from using Coinbase’s services. The world’s biggest bitcoin brokerage imposed a ban for violating US financial regulations, without specifying which ones. Sputnik discussed the matter with Greg Barns, a member of the Julian Assange legal team.

    Sputnik: So, Greg, what can you say about the Coinbase scandal? What do you think prompted Coinbase to take this action? How seriously has this really affected the WikiLeaks shop?

    Greg Barns: I think it is more symbolic than it is in terms of real harm. But I think what it shows is that companies are meant to be very wary about succumbing to US pressure, because there is no doubt that Coinbase has obviously, otherwise it wouldn't have taken this decision, succumbed to US pressure. And we've seen that, of course, we saw that in relation to WikiLeaks with banks, but certainly the attitude and the actions of Coinbase are of concern, because, as I say, it seems that it has buckled to pressure, US pressure in particular and it's once again showing the way in which the US is determined to block freedom of speech in the form of WikiLeaks.

    READ MORE: WikiLeaks Claims Cryptocurrency Exchange Shut Down Its Bitcoin Account

    Sputnik: Has something happened recently? Was there a recent leak or something? Does this coincide with any new whistleblowing activity that WikiLeaks has conducted?

    Greg Barns: I don't think so. I think it is just a part of the overall US obstruction of WikiLeaks and obstruction of the work that WikiLeaks does. I mean we saw on the weekend the extraordinary conduct of the Democratic Party in taking legal action to sue WikiLeaks and number of others, including Russian players, again trying to shutdown freedom of speech.

    READ MORE: Theater of the Absurd: DNC Sues Russia, WikiLeaks, and Trump Campaign

    But companies, like Coinbase, should know better. They are in a market where, they're in a disruptive market where they are trying out new products, where they want new customers and customers don't like companies which buckle to political pressure, in this case — the US.

    Sputnik: Wiki[Leaks] has called for a blockade of Coinbase as unfit member of the cryptocommunity. Any news on that? What has been the reaction?

    Greg Barns: I think there will be a lot of support among people in the cryptocommunity. Because you rightly say, the point about the cryptocommunity is suspicion of central banks, suspicion of corporate regulators and particularly those that are close to the banks. For Coinbase to blink in the way that it is done, I think a dim view will be taken by other cryptocurrency users and I think WikiLeaks is right to call for a blockade.

    READ MORE: 'Unfit Member': WikiLeaks Calls for Global Blockade of Major Crypto Trader

    What Coinbase has done is to block payments in relation to the WikiLeaks shop, which sells merchandize effectively. It doesn't have anything to do with other arms of WikiLeaks in the sense it is not involved in those other arms. The conduct of Coinbase really is quite problematic.

    Sputnik: Could you comment a bit on overall climate for the whistleblowers in the US.

    Greg Barns: The climate for whistleblowers in the US has never been worse. It was bad enough under previous administrations, including the Obama administration. But what you have now with people like Mike Pompeo, who, of course, is a Bush favorite, and John Bolton — people who have zero tolerance for freedom of speech, zero tolerance for alternative perspectives

    READ MORE: Assange's Internet Ban May Be Linked to Skripal Case Tweets — Wikileaks Adviser

    And the fact that you have got people like Pompeo who have said that they want get a hold of Julian Assange. They want to see Assange effectively subjected to cruel, unusual punishment and torture, tells you a lot about the US. It is one the great forms of hypocrisy, of which there are many in the US, but this is one of the great forms of hypocrisy — this is the country which lauds freedom of speech and does so in its Constitution. But the reality is that freedom of speech is severely limited and it's getting worse.

    The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    freedom of speech, ban, Coinbase, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, United States
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