WikiLeaks Fires Back At Defector Over Book Claims - Andy Greenberg - The Firewall - Forbes
Things have gotten ugly between WikiLeaks and Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the former staffer at the secret-spilling site who left in September of last year.
On Wednesday, an excerpt of his forthcoming book, Inside WikiLeaks, leaked out to the document repository site Cryptome. The excerpt criticizes Assange’s character, his attitude towards women, and his honesty. Most importantly, it claims that defectors from WikiLeaks have taken control of the site’s submissions system and some portion of its leaked materials in the interest of protecting the group’s anonymous sources.
A few hours later, WikiLeaks has gone on the counterattack. A statement sent to me by spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson says that WikiLeaks is taking legal action against Domscheit-Berg, and accuses him of “various acts of sabotage.” “The former WikiLeaks staffer admits to having damaged the site’s primary submission system and stolen material,” the statement reads.
It goes on to downplay Domscheit-Berg’s role in WikiLeaks and deny that he ever worked as a computer programmer. “He has falsely misrepresented himself in the press as a programmer, computer-scientist, security expert, architect, editor, founder, director and spokesman,” the statement reads. “He cannot program and wrote not a single program for the organization, at any time.”
I’ll leave WikiLeaks and Domscheit-Berg to argue over whether he and others “sabotaged” WikiLeaks’ operations, or alternatively, rescued its sources from an insecure system as Domscheit-Berg has claimed. But it seems plain that Domscheit-Berg did once serve as a spokesperson for WikiLeaks in Germany and elsewhere, appearing publicly with Assange in press appearances and at conferences. He’s also known to have worked as an engineer for the IT services giant EDS, suggesting that he does in fact possess technical abilities.
I’ve contacted Domscheit-Berg and will offer his response when I hear back from him.
In the mean time, here’s WikiLeaks’ statement in full.
WikiLeaks has been taking legal action against former employee, Daniel Domscheit-Berg who was suspended from the organization in September. The reasons for these actions will gradually become clear, but some are hinted at by extracts from Domscheit-Bergs book.
In the book Domscheit-Berg confesses to various acts of sabotage against the organization. The former WikiLeaks staffer admits to having damaged the sites primary submission system and stolen material.
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 organization´s need to focus its resources on publication and defense.
It should be noted that Domscheit-Berg´s roles within WikiLeaks were limited and started to diminish almost a year ago as his integrity and stability were questioned. He has falsely misrepresented himself in the press as a programmer, computer-scientist, security expert, architect, editor, founder, director and spokesman. He is not a founder or co-founder and nor was there any contact with him during the founding years. He did not even have an email address with the organization until 2008 (we launched in December 2006). He cannot program and wrote not a single program for the organization, at any time.
Domschiet-Berg was never an architect for the organization, technically, or in matters of policy. He was a spokesperson for WikiLeaks in Germany at various times, but he was never the spokesman for WikiLeaks, nor was he ever WikiLeaks editor, although he subedited some articles. He was also never a computer scientist, or computer security expert, although he was a computer science student many years ago. His accounts of the crucial times in WikiLeaks history since April last year are therefore based upon limited information or malicious falsifications.