PayPal has unfrozen the account of a group helping to raise funds to defend U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been charged with leaking classified files to WikiLeaks.
Accused of punitively banning the account of Courage to Resist, the mobile payment company said in a blog post yesterday that the move was instead triggered because the group had not complied with PayPal policy requiring nonprofits to associate a bank account with their PayPal accounts. Though PayPal said it typically doesn't comment on such matters, it felt it needed to clear the record in this case.
On Wednesday, PayPal was labeled "evil" by the Bradley Manning Support Network, which is working with Courage to Resist to support Manning, currently being held on charges that he provided sensitive files to WikiLeaks. The groups accept donations to their causes from supporters through PayPal.
In a press release, the Support Network claimed PayPal would not unfreeze the account of Courage to Resist unless the company received approval to withdraw funds from the group's checking account, something the network said was not possible.
"Our accounting does not allow for this type of direct access by a third party, nor do I trust PayPal as a business entity with this responsibility given their punitive actions against WikiLeaks--an entity not charged with any crime by any government on Earth," said Courage to Resist project director Jeff Paterson.
"While there may be no legal obligation to provide services, there is an ethical obligation," added Paterson. "By shutting out legitimate nonprofit activity, PayPal shows itself to be morally bankrupt."
In its defense, PayPal said that it will not withdraw funds from a checking account without the authorization of the account holder and had simply put a temporary limitation on Courage to Resist's account for not complying with the policy.
After further review, PayPal said it decided to lift the temporary ban on the account, explaining that it now had enough information to fulfill its "Know Your Customer" guidelines, which the company uses to validate the identity of its customers.
The Support Network cited PayPal backing down on the matter as a sign that it reacted to pressure from the group's supporters who had petitioned the company to reinstate the account.