WikiLeaks Faces New Competition
By Jeanne Whalen & David Crawford | WSJ.com
WikiLeaks, the document-leaking website that has come under intense pressure after publishing classified U.S. military documents, is facing a new challenge: competition.
A group that includes former WikiLeaks staffers who left the organization after disagreements with founder Julian Assange is pursuing plans for a rival document-leaking venture, said people familiar with their plans.
These people said one of the leaders of the new initiative is Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a top WikiLeaks lieutenant who quit in September. Mr. Domscheit-Berg, a German, is planning to launch new technology to assist whistle-blowers who want to leak documents, said people with knowledge of the matter.
“There is some indication that Daniel and some others are setting up a similar venue, and we wish them luck,” said Kristinn Hrafnsson, a WikiLeaks spokesman, in a recent interview in London. “It would be good to have more organizations like WikiLeaks.”
Another site that publishes leaked documents and top-secret information is cryptome.org, which among other things has published leaks about WikiLeaks. Secrecy News, a blog written by the scientist Steven Aftergood, publishes government documents about the military, diplomacy and other matters.
Mr. Hrafnsson said another WikiLeaks insider, a “technician,” also quit the group and that “two or three volunteers” have left. He declined to identify them. He said reports of friction within WikiLeaks are “quite overblown.”
In media interviews since leaving WikiLeaks, Mr. Domscheit-Berg has complained that the group, while pursuing the leaks about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that dramatically raised the site’s profile, has neglected to publish a stack of lower-profile but still important documents it has received from other parts of the world.
Speaking at an event in London last week, Mr. Assange said WikiLeaks has temporarily stopped accepting new documents because it has too large a backlog and not enough resources to publish them at the moment. He gave no details.
“I think it is not right to be receiving documents that people may wish to get out urgently if you’re not in a position to publish them within a reasonable period of time,” Mr. Assange said.
The U.S. has sharply criticized WikiLeaks for publishing thousands of classified U.S. military documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. is investigating how the documents reached the website.
Private First Class Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, was arrested in May and charged with giving WikiLeaks a video that shows an Apache helicopter firing on Iraqi civilians.