Can the cult of Assange save cash-strapped WikiLeaks?

 

Los Anegeles

Roll up, roll up! The great WikiLeaks memorabilia auction has just begun. The laptop computer on which "Cablegate" was compiled is on offer for £6,000, while some signed versions of those famous diplomatic cables can be yours for just £2,100. And do I hear £240 for a sachet of prison coffee once purloined by an incarcerated Julian Assange?

With normal sources of revenue stifled by a financial services embargo – and running costs and legal fees mounting – the website's proprietors are doing what comes naturally to cash-strapped citizens of the internet era: selling a selection of prized second-hand possessions on eBay.

The first of four fundraising auctions was announced at the weekend, featuring 10 intriguing lots ranging from a print of the directive in which Hillary Clinton asked US officials to spy on the UN, to a signed photograph of Mr Assange, the WikiLeaks founder.

"In this framed unique photo, Julian Assange leans against a column at the front of Ellingham Hall where he has spent almost 300 days under house arrest," reads the accompanying blurb, which informs bidders that the image was autographed at Mr Assange's 40th birthday party. "It is one of only four photos of Julian in the world that were signed on this occasion," it adds.

That item was going for £640 last night, although bidding will not reach its crucial stages until Thursday. Bigger ticket items include the laptop computer, described as having "led to hundreds of front pages and a causative element in ongoing political turmoil and reforms". It has attracted a bid of £6,000.

Some of the organisation's prominent supporters have also chipped in. Vivienne Westwood is offering two tickets to her Paris fashion show later this month for £8,000. Chef Sarah Saunders will cook dinner at your home for £800. And John Pilger, the filmmaker, has contributed a signed movie poster, currently going for £420.

WikiLeaks, which is funded by donations, said the auction is an effort to replace cash lost during an "unlawful financial embargo" during which the Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union have refused to process payments to its accounts.

The celebrity sales patter attached to some auction lots may, however, lead critics to complain that the organisation has become unduly interested in promoting its founder. Mr Assange's soaring profile is reported to be a factor in simmering disputes which have recently seen several of his former colleagues resign from WikiLeaks.

Included in the auction, for example, is a coffee sachet purloined by Mr Assange during his stay at Her Majesty's pleasure before Christmas. "This rare item has been signed on one side: 'Julian A, Prison coffee, smuggled out of Wandsworth Prison by me on 17 Dec 2010'," reads the blurb. "On the other side of the sachet Julian has inked a fingerprint. The sachet is unopened."

Mr Assange is currently staying at the 650-acre Ellingham Hall estate, in Norfolk, while he fights extradition to Sweden. He denies charges of sexual misconduct with two women in Stockholm, saying they are part of a wider conspiracy against him.

Whistleblower's wares on offer

Item: CableGate preparation computer

Description 'The database machine allowed the WikiLeaks team to search the full set of cables and extract the cables to be sent encrypted to media organisations throughout the world.'

Item: Julian Assange's prison coffee sachet, signed and fingerprinted

Description 'Scarce item of memorabilia from Julian Assange's time in prison. When he left to go under house arrest in Norfolk, he smuggled out this, one of three sachets of coffee. The sachet is unopened.'

Item: Cable on UN spying, signed and fingerprinted

Description 'The unique cable details Hillary Clinton asking her diplomats to spy on UN officials, requesting them to collect details of UN officers, including Ban Ki-moon's DNA. Julian has also written the WikiLeaks' slogan on the cable: "Courage is Contagious."'

Item: Signed photograph of Julian Assange

Description 'Exclusive photo (13cm x 18cm) of the organisation's founder. It was taken at Ellingham Hall where Julian is under house arrest.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
Ministry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Richard Dawkins is known for his outspoken views
people
Life and Style
L’Auberge du pont de Collonges (AFP)
food + drinkFury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Arts and Entertainment
Bourne's New Adventures dance company worked with 27 young Londoners to devise a curtain-raiser staged before New Adventures' performance of Edward Scissorhands
theatreStar choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links