In the era of the market state, Philip Bobbitt has argued, political legitimacy for corporations, NGOs, and states alike comes from the ability to generate a cash flow.  --  So the question of how WikiLeaks keeps itself afloat financially is an important one in its current David-and-Goliath struggle with the U.S. national security state.  --  Ironically, Wikileaks is trying to keep secret many details of its financial operations, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.[1]  --  Meanwhile, right-wing websites are demanding an answer to the question:  "Who is bankrolling Julian Assange?"[2]  -- 

1.

HOW WIKILEAKS KEEPS ITS FUNDING SECRET
By Jeanne Whalen and David Crawford

Wall Street Journal

August 23, 2010

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704554104575436231926853198.html?mod=rss_US_News

The controversial website WikiLeaks, which argues the cause of openness in leaking classified or confidential documents, has set up an elaborate global financial network to protect a big secret of its own -- its funding.

Some governments and corporations angered by the site's publications have already sued WikiLeaks or blocked access to it, and the group fears that its money and infrastructure could be targeted further, founder Julian Assange said in an interview in London shortly after publishing 76,000 classified U.S. documents about the war in Afghanistan in July.  The move sparked international controversy and put WikiLeaks in the spotlight.

In response, the site has established a complex system for collecting and disbursing its donations to obscure their origin and use, Mr. Assange said.  Anchoring the system is a foundation in Germany established in memory of a computer hacker who died in 2001.

WikiLeaks's financial stability has waxed and waned during its short history.  The site shut down briefly late last year, citing a lack of funds, but Mr. Assange said the group has raised about $1 million since the start of 2010.

WikiLeaks's lack of financial transparency stands in contrast to the total transparency it seeks from governments and corporations.

"It's very hard work to run an organization, let alone one that's constantly being spied upon and sued," Mr. Assange said in the interview.  "Judicial decisions can have an effect on an organization's operation. . . . We can't have our cash flow constrained entirely," he said.

Among the cases WikiLeaks has faced, the Swiss bank Julius Baer &  Co. in 2008 sued for damages in federal court in California, alleging that the site had published stolen bank documents.  The court ordered the disabling of the wikileaks.org domain name, but the bank withdrew its lawsuit after civil-rights advocates protested.

Though Mr. Assange declined to name donors or certain companies through which donations flow, he provided some insight into the funding structure that allows the group to operate.

The linchpin of WikiLeaks's financial network is Germany's Wau Holland Foundation.  WikiLeaks encourages donors to contribute to its account at the foundation, which under German law can't publicly disclose the names of donors.  Because the foundation "is not an operational concern, it can't be sued for doing anything.  So the donors' money is protected, in other words, from lawsuits," Mr. Assange said.

The German foundation is only one piece of the WikiLeaks network.

"We're registered as a library in Australia, we're registered as a foundation in France, we're registered as a newspaper in Sweden," Mr. Assange said.  WikiLeaks has two tax-exempt charitable organizations in the U.S., known as 501C3s, that "act as a front" for the website, he said.  He declined to give their names, saying they could "lose some of their grant money because of political sensitivities."

Mr. Assange said WikiLeaks gets about half its money from modest donations processed by its website, and the other half from "personal contacts," including "people with some millions who approach us and say 'I'll give you 60,000 or 10,000,'" he said, without specifying a currency.

Retrieving money from the Wau Holland Foundation is a complicated task, he said.  WikiLeaks must submit receipts to the foundation, which issues grants to reimburse them.  Because German law requires the foundation to publicly disclose its expenditures, WikiLeaks uses "other foundations" to aggregate its bills and send them to Wau Holland, so that some of the companies WikiLeaks does business with remain anonymous, Mr. Assange said.  This prevents anyone from seeing whom, for example, WikiLeaks pays for Internet infrastructure, or where that infrastructure is located.

To operate, the website needs several powerful computers linked to high-speed Internet connections.  WikiLeaks particularly tries to obscure payments for "basic infrastructure that could be attacked," for "servers that are engaged in source protection," and for "security engineers," Mr. Assange said.

So far, Wau Holland has distributed €50,000 ($64,000) to a WikiLeaks account in Germany, strictly in exchange for receipts, according to Daniel Schmitt, spokesman at WikiLeaks, and Hendrik Fulda, deputy board chairman of the foundation.  Mr. Schmitt controls the account.

The average donation to WikiLeaks via the Wau Holland Foundation is about €20, Mr. Fulda said.  The largest donation through the foundation -- €10,000 -- arrived from a German donor after the publication of the Afghan war documents, he said, declining to reveal further details.

Mr. Schmitt said WikiLeaks needs about $200,000 a year to cover its operating expenses -- mainly network fees, rent, and storage costs for the sites where the servers are, and some hardware and travel expenses.  Should it decide to pay salaries to its five staff members, as it is now considering, it would need about €600,000 a year, he said.

Paying salaries is a "sensitive subject," he said, noting that outsiders might question the need for them.

Mr. Fulda of the foundation said WikiLeaks needs €10,000 to €15,000 a month to maintain its Web presence.  Late last year, when donors were contributing only €2,000 to €3,000 per month, WikiLeaks was struggling to survive, he said.  So it shut down its website in December, leaving up only an appeal for donors to transfer money to the group via the Wau Holland Foundation.  Soon, donations per month increased 20-fold.

WikiLeaks reopened its website in May, but "within days . . . donations dropped back to near their former level," Mr. Fulda said.

The fluctuation caught the attention of Wau Holland's banking partners including eBayInc.'s PayPal, which demanded explanations for the surge and fall in donations.  "I explained it wasn't money laundering, just WikiLeaks donations," Mr. Fulda said.

A PayPal spokeswoman said the company is "still processing payments for WikiLeaks."  She said that she couldn't comment further on a specific account but that in general, PayPal is required by anti-money-laundering laws and its own anti-fraud regulations to investigate accounts when they exceed certain limits.

WikiLeaks has tried to diversify away from PayPal by adding other payment options to its site, including Flattr.com, a payment system based in Sweden, and Moneybookers, a system based in the U.K.

A spokeswoman for Moneybookers said the company used to provide services to WikiLeaks but "as they don't adhere to Moneybookers' standards, the agreement was terminated."  She declined to comment further.

Flattr.com said it was "really proud and happy to help" Wikileaks.  "We think their work is exactly what is needed and if we can help just a little bit, we will," said Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, founder of Flattr.com.

--Write to Jeanne Whalen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and David Crawford at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


2.

JULIAN ASSANGE: WHO'S BANKROLLING WIKILEAKS FOUNDER?

By Mondo Frazier

** Where’s Julian Assange getting his cash and why isn’t that a question that’s being pursued?  How does the former hacker travel to Sweden and get a rape charge dropped within 24 hours?  Who is Julian Assange’s puppetmaster? **

Death by 1000 Papercuts (DBKP)
August 22, 2010

http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2010/08/julian-assange-whos-bankrolling-wikileaks-founder/


CORRECTION: Both sources quoted mention Julian Assange’s being “being out on bond” without mentioning that the convictions and arrests were for hacking incidents that occurred in 1992.  Several changes reflect this.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

WHERE IS GLOBE-TROTTING HACKER, JULIAN ASSANGE’S MONEY COMING FROM?


There are many questions about Julian Assange, the founder of the online document dump called Wikileaks.

One of the main questions which remains to be answered:  just who, exactly, is bankrolling Julian Assange?  Who’s bankrolling the hacker who is out on bond in Australia, accused of rape -- and the charges are dropped within 24 hours -- in Sweden and his Wikileaks’ network?

The story on Assange goes that he’s sleeping on friend’s couches -- but the reason given is that Assange is attempting to lay low by doing so -- not from his want of cash.

A co-founder of Wikileaks gave a hint of the source of Assange’s cash in a recent interview.  From WikiLeaks founder speaks out about leaked Afghan war documents:  "John Young, a WikiLeaks co-founder who left the whistle-blower website in a dispute over credibility, told CNN’s Jim Clancy people should be cautious of WikiLeaks document dump.  'They revealed that they were continuing to raise $5 million in the first year, and I had a problem with that scale of money raising,' Young said.  'So I criticized it . . . the only way you could raise that kind of money that fast would be for some corrupt source of money or some government agency.  So they booted me off the list.'"

“Some government agency?”  What government, what agency?

Whoever it is, Assange seems to move around quite freely for someone who’s had his share of run-ins with the law.

Wikileaks Founder: In Less Than 24 Hours, Swedish Authorities Drop Rape Arrest Warrant:  "According to CNN, Assange, a elite hacker, belonged to the hacker group dubbed the International Subversives.  In Australia, Assange plead guilty to 24 counts of hacking into Australian government and commercial websites. Assange’s ‘defense’, the Wikileaks founder claimed he was ‘testing security gaps.’  The Australian government released Assange ‘on bond for good behavior.’  Which leads to:  If Assange is 'out on bond,' how did Assange manage to leave Australia?  In the U.S., when you’ve plead guilty to a crime and are 'out on bond,' part of the ‘bond’ process, receiving permission to travel.  Why did the Aussies allow a ‘criminal’ hacker to leave the country?  A convicted felon who had hacked into Australian government websites?  The same hacker whose next target was the U.S. military?  [NOTE: These incidents occurred in 1992.]  Who is behind Julian Assange and Wikileaks? Who paid the “start-up” for Wikileaks?"

So Assange gets charged with 24 hacking offenses in Australia, is out on bond and travels to Sweden, where he’s charged with rape and molestation.  Less than 24 hours later, the rape charge is dropped and there is no arrest.

Again, who is bankrolling Julian Assange?  Who is pulling the strings that extend from Australia to Sweden and enable the fair-haired Aussie to become a globe-trotting leaker of American military secrets?

Where did his $5 million come from?

All questions which might lead to the answer: Just who is bankrolling Julian Assange?

Once the “who” is answered, a lot of other answers might more easily fall into place.