Wikileaks Bypasses Sanctions Using Bitcoin

When Did Wikileaks Begin Accepting Bitcoin?

On June 14, 2011, Forbes reported that WikiLeaks was using Bitcoin to get around US sanctions, especially the banking blockade that had been put in place against the group.

This made it possible for supporters to give money without giving their names or going through banks.

Forbes headline WikiLeaks Asks For Anonymous Bitcoin Donations
Source: Forbes.

During an online Q&A, Julian Assange (WikiLeaks founder) said that the banking blockade was making it hard for supporters to give money to WikiLeaks.

This was due to traditional payment processors working with the federal government to suspend donations to Wikileaks.

Why Was Wikileaks Being Sanctioned?

The US government put restrictions on WikiLeaks because the organization had released secret information about US military operations and diplomatic cables.

The US government saw the release of this information as a threat to national security, so it put a number of restrictions in place to try to stop WikiLeaks from doing its work.


In 2017, Assange tweeted that Wikileaks had made a lot of money due to the banking sanctions because the value of the Bitcoins it held had gone up since it started accepting the cryptocurrency.

Julian Assange Tweet appreciating bitcoin donations

And the relationship between Wikileaks and bitcoin has continued to grow.

In 2019, just after Julian Assange was finally expelled from the Peruvian embassy in London and arrested, bitcoin donations to Wikileaks surged.

AP headline WikiLeaks sees Bitcoin donations surge in hours after Julian Assange’s arrest

Why Was This Important?

Wikileak’s choice to accept bitcoin for donations proved the use case of bitcoin better than other event in history.

Wikileak’s was a sanctioned organization that was, nevertheless, very popular, and people wanted to support it.

The traditional financial sector made it more or less impossible to support Wikileaks.

Once Wikileaks began accepting bitcoin, anyone who could get access to bitcoin could now easily support it.

This proved that bitcoin can do what it set out to do - create a separate system of transacting value without requiring anyone’s permission to do so.

It also brought attention to the fact that political dissidents and activists were using Bitcoin more and more to fight against government censorship and surveillance.