Wikileaks threatens action against ex-colleague of Assange

WikiLeaks says it will take legal action against a former key member of the website who left after a bitter fallout with founder Julian Assange and went on to set up a rival whistle-blowing platform.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesman for WikiLeaks, confirmed that the organisation intends to sue Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German transparency campaigner who - until his departure last September - was one of the few public faces of the secretive whistle-blowing platform.

Mr Domscheit-Berg, who is launching his own whistle-blowing websites OpenLeaks, has written a warts and all memoir of his time at WikiLeaks in which he accuses Mr Assange of being an irresponsible and autocratic leader who once threatened to kill him.

“Inside WikiLeaks”, which went on sale in Germany today and will be published in Britain next week, is one of just a number of recent memoirs from people who have worked with Mr Assange that portray the WikiLeaks founder in a poor light.

In some of the most damaging passages, Mr Domscheit-Berg describes his former colleague as an intensely paranoid man who began travelling with bodyguards, ruled over his followers as an “emperor” and had a particular fondness for young women, money and power.

His memoir also alleges that WikiLeaks has been crippled from receiving any new leaks after a disgruntled programmer who developed the submissions section of the website unplugged a key component which guaranteed anonymity to those wishing to leak information to the site.

Together with Mr Domscheit-Berg, the programmer also helped lift 3,500 files off the WikiLeaks servers before their departure.

The revelations are further confirmation of serious logistical problems, first reported by The Independent in October, faced by WikiLeaks following a series of high-profile defections by programmers and volunteers that disagreed with Mr Assange’s leadership style.

In an excerpt of the book that was itself leaked to the publishing site Cryptome, Mr Domscheit-Berg claims that he and the programmer – who is known only as “The Architect” – disconnected the submissions section because they believed Mr Assange could not be trusted to keep sources secret. “Children shouldn’t play with guns,” Mr Domscheit-Berg writes to explain his decision. “That was our argument for removing the submissions platform from Julian’s control.”

He then goes on to question why WikiLeaks’ submission arm is still not online. “I don’t know exactly why, as of the end of 2010, three months after our departure, the system is still not really back up on its feet,” he says. “It shows that the current team is overtaxed and perhaps, to some extent at least, just not up to the job

The memoir has provoked a furious response from Mr Hrafnsson, an Icelandic journalist who took over as WikiLeaks chief spokesman after Mr Domscheit-Berg’s departure. In a statement released today he said lawyers would take legal action against OpenLeaks for sabotage.

“The sabotage and concern over motives led to an overhaul of the entire submission system, an ongoing project that is not being expedited due to its complex nature and the organisation's need to focus its resources on publication and defence,” he said.

Mr Hrafnsson also questioned how influential Mr Domscheit-Berg’s role was within WikiLeaks, claiming his memoir is based on “limited information or malicious falsifications.”

This afternoon Mr Domscheit-Berg released his own statement ridiculing the threat of legal action, adding that The Architect had simply withdrawn his permission for WikiLeaks to continue using his coding.

The ongoing spat between the two whistle-blowing websites came as Mr Assange appeared in court to continue his fight against being extradited to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations.

Meanwhile lawyers in the 39-year-old’s home town of Melbourne have revealed how Mr Assange, as a budding computer hacker in his early twenties, once assisted local investigators to build two child pornography cases.

His counsel Grace Morgan, told the Victorian County Court: "His role was limited to providing technical advice and support, to assist in the prosecution of persons suspected of publishing and distributing child pornography on the internet.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there