WikiLeaks in Disarray, Says Former No. 2 Staffer

WikiLeaks homepage

WikiLeaks homepage

The former number two at WikiLeaks, an online whistle-blower that published thousands of documents about military activities in Iraq and Afgahnistan, told Der Spiegel that the organization is plagued by technical and organizational problems and that core members of the project intend to leave.

"It is no longer clear even to me who is actually making decisions and who is answerable to them," said Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who had previously been known by the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt and served as WikiLeak's Germany spokesman.

Germany is a key area for WikiLeaks: it receives many of its submissions in German, gets technical help from Chaos Computer Club, a German hacker organization, and much of WikiLeaks' financial support comes from within the country.

Domscheit-Berg has remained silent for weeks, not returning phone calls or e-mails until his interview with Spiegel. He says that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suspended him a month ago following disagreements about how the site was managed and he has now decided to quit.

"Because of the high pressure we have all been under following the publication of the American military documents, we have not been able to restructure our organization accordingly. This has created a situation in which not all of the work is being done correctly," Domscheit-Berg told Spiegel.

WikiLeaks caused a media frenzy and a Pentagon investigation when it released 90,000 classified documents this summer, publishing many of them in conjunction with the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel.

Assange himself garnered headlines when he came under investigation in Sweden for rape charges. Domscheit-Berg said in the Spiegel interview that he thinks it would have been best for WikiLeaks if Assange had withdrawn from the public eye while dealing with the allegations.

Domscheit-Berg also hints that he might start a competitor site.

"I will continue to do my part to ensure that the idea of a decentralized whistle-blower platform stays afloat. I will work on that now," Domscheit-Berg told Spiegel. "And that, incidentally, is in line with one of our original shared convictions -- in the end, there needs to be a thousand WikiLeaks."

  • Gina Pace

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