December 11, 2010

OpenLeaks Project Started By Former Wikileaks Staff

Along with attacks from outside sources, Wikileaks now has discord from within, as former staff members have branched off to form their own whistleblower platform -- OpenLeaks -- which is expected to launch Monday.

Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported on the launch, using information from an unnamed source.

"Our long term goal is to build a strong, transparent platform to support whistleblowers "” both in terms of technology and politics "” while at the same time encouraging others to start similar projects," the newspaper quoted the source as saying.

The main difference between the two sites will be the way information is published to the public. OpenLeaks will allow whistleblowers to submit documents anonymously and will allow them to choose where the information goes, rather than be the source that publishes it. In theory, that will free OpenLeaks from the political battle that Wikileaks is currently facing. But not everyone is convinced it will have that effect.

OpenLeaks also wants to function more democratically.

"As a short-term goal, this is about completing the technical infrastructure and ensuring that the organization continues to be democratically governed by all its members, rather than limited to one group or individual," the Dutch paper reported.

The launch of OpenLeaks is a clear indication that cracks exist in the Wikileaks foundation, and perhaps some hypocrisy in not holding itself as accountable as it does the governments it exposes.

According to MSNBC's Technolog, the rupture is most apparent in an exchange between Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and the most prominent name in the new endeavor: former Wikileaks' German spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg, aka Daniel Schmitt.

The two argued this past summer over Assange's investigation into a "serious security breach" of internal conflicts within Wikileaks being published in Newsweek, while Schmidt tried to question him over details about Wikileaks agreements with the media over the release of Iraq war documents.

Assange wrote to Domscheit-Berg: "A person in close contact with other Wikileaks activists around Europe, who asked for anonymity when discussing a sensitive topic, says that many of them were privately concerned that Assange has continued to spread allegations of dirty tricks and hint at conspiracies against him without justification. Insiders say that some people affiliated with the website are already brainstorming (sic) whether there might be some way to persuade their front man to step aside, or failing that, even to oust him."

"What does that have to do with me? And where is this from?" responded Domscheit-Berg.

Assange continued to question him. "Why do you think it has something to do with you?"

"Probably because you allege (sic) this was me, but other than that just about nothing. As discussed yesterday, this is an ongoing discussion that lots of people have voiced concern about. You should face this, rather than trying to shoot at the only person that even cares to be honest about it towards you," Domscheit-Berg retorted.

"You are not anyone's king or god," wrote Domscheit-Berg. "And you're not even fulfilling your role as a leader right now. A leader communicates and cultivates trust in himself. You are doing the exact opposite. You behaved like some kind of emperor or slave trader."

"You are suspended for one month, effective immediately," Assange fired back at Domscheit-Berg.

"If you wish to appeal, you will be heard on Tuesday," Assange told Domscheit-Berg.

He and other former Wikileaks associates will be heard Monday, loud and clear, through OpenLeaks.


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