The Curious Case of PayPal and Consortium News

MEDIA, 9 May 2022

John Kiriakou | ScheerPost – TRANSCEND Media Service

3 May 2022 – The independent news website has been banned from taking donations on PayPal without so much as an explanation. The reason might be as simple as it is chilling.

[Diverse Stock Photos / CC BY-NC 2.0]

Editor’s Note: PayPal has now relented on keeping Consortium News’ funds, but it continues to ban new donations.

PayPal on Sunday canceled the account of independent news source Consortium News and, at least temporarily, seized its funds.  PayPal gave no warning or reason for the action, there was no due process or appeal, and it indicated that it would decide sometime in the next six months if the nearly $10,000 account balance would be released.  PayPal took the action on the first day of Consortium News’s biannual fundraising drive.

Consortium News is one of the country’s most highly-respected independent news sources.  It was founded in 1995 by journalist Robert Parry, who gained fame at the Associated Press, and later at Newsweek, for his role in uncovering the Iran-Contra affair and for breaking the story of CIA involvement in Contra cocaine trafficking.  Parry was a winner of the prestigious George Polk Award for National Reporting and of the I. F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence, bestowed by Harvard University’s Neiman Foundation.

Its board of directors includes Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, foreign policy author Diana Johnstone, Black Agenda Report editor Margaret Kimberley, political consultant Garland Nixon, United Nations Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe communications director Nat Parry, documentary filmmaker John Pilger, award-winning investigative journalist Gareth Porter, producer and Academy Award nominee Julie Bergman Sender, 2012 Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein, and this author.

PayPal’s action comes just days after it suspended the accounts of independent news outlet MintPressNews and journalist Caleb Maupin. Again, no reasons were given, and PayPal confiscated their funds.

Consortium News’ editor-in-chief, Joe Lauria, an author and former journalist with the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, and the Times of London, said that PayPal sent him an email on Sunday saying, “You can’t use PayPal anymore. At PayPal, we value a safe community for our customers to do business.  We noticed activity in your account that’s inconsistent with our User Agreement and we no longer offer you PayPal services.” The email went on to discuss the seizure of funds, saying, “If there was a violation, it is possible the money could be kept as damage to PayPal.  Violations under the Restricted Activities of the User Agreement include providing false, inaccurate or misleading information to PayPal, other PayPal customers, or third parties.”

PayPal was sued in California in January under federal racketeering laws for freezing customer money and refusing to provide an explanation. Bloomberg reported at the time that, “Two California residents and a Chicago businessman claim in the lawsuit that PayPal’s hold on the money amounts to an unlawful seizure. The three plaintiffs are proposing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all account holders who have had their money placed on hold.” World Series of Poker winner Chris Moneymaker, who had $12,000 seized by PayPal, tweeted in January:

Just ten days after the tweet, PayPal returned Moneymaker’s funds.  But the California suit continues.

Why would PayPal take action like this against Consortium News?  The only explanation those involved in the publication can think of is that it’s a result of the hysteria over the Ukraine war.  The site has questioned the wisdom of unbridled US support for the war, and has published recent articles entitled “Being Anti-War Isn’t Easy, “US Makes Clear Its Aim Is to Weaken Russia,” and “Ukraine & the Strength of Nonalignment.” Is it as simple as that?  Silicon Valley won’t stand for an alternative view on the war?  That’s the common thread between Consortium News, MintPress News, and Caleb Maupin. They’re all anti-war. Meanwhile, the mainstream media, with the possible occasional exception of Fox News, couldn’t be any more pro-war.

Consortium News is now paralyzed. It will have to take to the courts for justice and to recover its funding. It’s going to be a tough fight against a rich corporate giant. But it’s the principle of the thing. Independent voices must be heard. Freedom of speech and press were among the basic tenets upon which this country was founded. We should all be willing to fight to keep those freedoms.


John Kiriakou was a CIA analyst and case officer from 1990 to 2004. In December 2007, John was the first U.S. government official to confirm that waterboarding was used to interrogate al-Qaeda prisoners, a practice he described as torture. While employed with the CIA, he refused to be trained in so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” nor did he ever authorize or engage in such crimes. Kiriakou is the sole CIA agent to go to jail in connection with the U.S. torture program, despite the fact that he never tortured anyone. Rather, he blew the whistle on this horrific wrongdoing. John can be reached at:

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One Response to “The Curious Case of PayPal and Consortium News”

  1. TacoJoe says:

    “At PayPal, we value a safe community for our customers to do business. We noticed activity in your account that’s inconsistent with our User Agreement and we no longer offer you PayPal services”

    Happened to me.