Philip Dorling, October 25, 2011
WIKILEAKS, the whistleblowing website, should again be fully operational next month.
In the meantime, its founder, Julian Assange, is concentrating on fund-raising. ”To reclaim the organisation’s future survival, WikiLeaks is now forced to temporarily suspend its operations and move into a phase of fund-raising,” Mr Assange said in a statement released in London yesterday.
Mr Assange also revealed at a news conference that WikiLeaks would reactivate its confidential document submission system from November 28, the first anniversary of the group’s massive release of leaked US diplomatic cables.
WikiLeaks’s electronic drop box gives whistleblowers a mechanism to anonymously upload leaked documents for publication. What has been described as a “military-grade encryption system” has been offline for more than a year after the former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg and another disgruntled WikiLeaks team member removed critical software and crippled the central element of the group’s operations.
As a result, a post office box at the Australia Post branch at Melbourne University has been WikiLeaks’s sole advertised point for receiving information.
A WikiLeaks spokesman, Kristinn Hrafnsson, would not disclose technical details of the “re-engineered” submission system but said it had ”been rebuilt from scratch and is more robust and secure than the previous version”.
Mr Assange called on media organisations and private individuals to help circumvent the “arbitrary and unlawful banking blockade imposed by Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union and Bank of America … [that] has wiped out 90 to 95 per cent of WikiLeaks’s donations”.
Prompted by US government condemnation of Mr Assange, PayPal and other financial institutions suspended funds transfers to WikiLeaks. It says the embargo might have cost it $15 million in donations.
Yesterday a German charity, the Wau Holland Foundation, said it would begin legal action to force PayPal to reactivate its WikiLeaks account.
Mr Assange is awaiting the outcome of a court appeal against extradition to Sweden to face police questioning about sexual molestation allegations by two women.
WikiLeaks says the funding of this case is separate from the organisation’s finances.