ABC News' Kirit Radia (@kiritradia_abc) reports:
Wikileaks’ latest fundraising video takes a jab at Mastercard, one of the major credit card companies that is blocking over $15 million in donations to the anti-secrecy group. It also suggests the group’s work in exposing thousands of secret American diplomatic cables and military documents was the catalyst for the Arab Spring uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Spoofing Mastercards’ signature “Priceless” ads, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange makes in an appearance in the minute long video which tallies the group’s various expenses associated with running the website and defending it from attack and legal challenges.
Among the costs, according to the video: 20 secure phones priced at $5,000, legal bills in five countries valued at $1 million, upkeep of servers in over 40 countries costing $200,000, the loss donations lost due to banking blockade worth $15 million, and an extra $500,000 to cover costs associated with Assange’s court-ordered house arrest in Great Britain.
The clip delivers the kicker as the camera tilts up to a slightly smiling, slightly smirking Assange watching crowds protest during an Arab Spring uprising: “Watching the world change as a result of your work: priceless,” the narrator says. “There are some people who don’t like change. For everyone else there’s Wikileaks.”
Last fall Wikileaks released the first batch of State Department cables which exposed unfiltered American diplomatic correspondence between its embassies abroad and the headquarters in Washington, DC. As the Arab Spring took hold in early 2011 Wikileaks suggested the uprisings were inspired by evidence of corruption in those countries that was exposed in the leaked cables.
The State Department, meanwhile, has argued the uprisings had little to do with the leaked cables and more to do with homegrown movements building on longstanding frustrations with governments in the region.
So far there’s been no response from Mastercard, which has taken legal action against parodies of its ads in the past. In 2000 the company sued presidential candidate Ralph Nader who released a political ad that mimicked the Mastercard commercials. In 2004, however, a court ruled in favor of Nader.