Saturday, December 11, 2010

WikiLeaks rival site 'underway' by Julian Assange's former co-worker

WIKILEAKS soon won't be the only secret-spilling game in town

A former co-worker of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange plans to launch a rival website on Monday called Openleaks that will help anonymous sources deliver sensitive material to public attention.

In a documentary by Swedish broadcaster SVT, due to be aired tomorrow and obtained in advance by AP, former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg said the new website will work as an outlet for anonymous sources.

"Openleaks is a technology project that is aiming to be a service provider for third parties that want to be able to accept material from anonymous sources," Domscheit-Berg said in a rare interview conducted in Berlin.

Ever since WikiLeaks burst on the international news agenda in the northern spring there's been speculation about possible copycat sites.

In Berlin, Domscheit-Berg was not available to talk yesterday as he was focusing on a book about his time at WikiLeaks.

SVT reporter Jesper Huor said Openleaks will be launched on Monday from a base in Germany as part of a yet-undisclosed foundation, run by a board of directors.

The timing of the new site comes as pressure mounts for both WikiLeaks and Assange, its 39-year-old Australian founder, after the start of publication of about 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables last month.

The WikiLeaks site has come under attack, while Assange, now in a British jail fighting extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations, has been threatened. Swiss Postfinance, MasterCard, Visa, PayPal and others have cut ways to send donations to the group, impairing its ability to raise money.

Assange, a 39-year-old former computer hacker from Australia, has denied the Swedish accusations.

Domscheit-Berg, who during his time with WikiLeaks often went under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, said he quit the project after falling out with Assange over what he described as the lack of transparency in the group's decision-making process.

"If you preach transparency to everyone else, you have to be transparent yourself. You have to fulfill the same standards you expect from others, and I think that's where we've not been heading in the same direction philosophically anymore," he said in the documentary.

Domscheit-Berg said the main problem was how the WikiLeaks website began handling bigger leaks, such as the disclosures of about 400,000 classified US war files from Iraq and 76,000 from Afghanistan earlier this year.

Too many resources went into these disclosures, he said.

"I think the wisest thing to do would have been to do this slowly, step by step, to grow the project. That did not happen," he said.

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