WikiLeaks Obscures Origin of Funding

By Ashok Bindra August 23, 2010

While WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website, was founded on openness and bringing classified or confidential government and corporate documents to the public for believing in transparency, its funding stands in sharp contrast to its principles. According to today’s Wall Street Journal report, WikiLeaks has set up an elaborate global financial network to keep its own funding a big secret.

Angered by the site’s decimation of sensitive information, some governments and corporations have already taken the grouo and its founder to court or blocked access to it. Now the the group fears that its money and infrastructure could be next target, WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange told WSJ reporters Jeanne Whalen and David Crawford in an interview in London. This interview was given soon after the site published 76,000 classified U.S. documents about the war in Afghanistan in July. The move sparked international controversy and put WikiLeaks in the spotlight, the WSJ report says.

Fearing reprisal, the group has obscured the source of funding by establishing a complex system for collecting and spending its donations. This system is being managed by a  foundation in Germany, established in memory of a computer hacker who died in 2001, Assange said in his interview.

Since its inception, the founder said, WikiLeaks’s financial stability has swelled and declined to the extent that late last year the site was shut down briefly. But, now group has raised about $1 million since the beginning of this year, asserted Assange  to the reporters.

Although, the founder refused to identify the names of donors or companies and organizations providing money, Assange shed some light on the funding structure. As per the WSJ report, major support of WikiLeaks’s financial network comes from Germany’s Wau Holland Foundation. Because the German law protects the foundation from disclosing names of its donors, the web site is asking donors to contribute to its account at the foundation. Because the foundation "is not an operational concern, it cannot be sued for doing anything. So the donors’ money is protected from lawsuits, Assange told the reporters.

Additionally, there are many other sources of income for WikiLeaks. For instance, it is registered as a library in Australia, a foundation in France, and a newspaper in Sweden. In the U.S., WikiLeaks has two tax-exempt charitable organizations, reports WSJ.

Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Contributor

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