LONDON - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Monday that financial problems may lead to the closure of the notorious secret-spilling site at the end of this year.
"If WikiLeaks does not find a way to remove this blockade we will simply not be able to continue by the turn of the new year," he said. "If we don't knock down the blockade we simply will not be able to continue."
WikiLeaks said in a statement Monday that it would stop publishing for the moment in order to focus on making money — explaining that the blockade imposed by financial companies including Visa, MasterCard, Western Union and PayPal left it with no choice.
The statement says that in order to ensure survival, WikiLeaks must "aggressively fundraise in order to fight back against this blockade and its proponents."
U.S.-based financial companies pulled the plug on WikiLeaks shortly after it began publishing some 250,000 U.S. State Department cables last year. The group says the restrictions starved it of nearly all its revenue.
The group has long shown signs of financial distress. In a recent statement about Assange's contested book deal, the group said it did not have enough money to hire a lawyer.
Assange remains under legal pressure in Europe and the United States. A decision on whether to extradite him to Sweden to face sex crime allegations is expected in the next few weeks. He also may face possible legal action in the United States.