The website credited with publishing the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history just accused the United States of funding the largest journalistic leak in world history.
Following the emergence of the so-called Panama Papers — which laid bare how the rich and powerful around the world use tax havens to hide their wealth — WikiLeaks accused the U.S. Agency for International Development and American hedge fund billionaire George Soros of funding the scandal to attack Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is one of the many world leaders and public officials implicated in the more than 11.5 million classified documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm.
The US OCCRP can do good work, but for the US govt to directly fund the #PanamaPapers attack on Putin seriously undermines its integrity.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 5, 2016
Although Putin isn’t named in the leaks, his close aides have been accused of running a massive $2 billion money laundering ring.
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WikiLeaks’ allegations are one of the many conspiracy theories surrounding the leaks.
Many have pointed out the connection between the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists — responsible for releasing the Panama Papers in collaboration with Germany newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung — and the U.S. government.
For example, the ICIJ is a project of the Center of Public Integrity, which is, as Vocativ notes, “funded by several influential U.S. think thanks and organizations, like the Carnegie Endowment, Rockefeller Family Fund and Open Society Foundations, which is founded by major progressive political donor George Soros.”
WikiLeaks also criticized the ICIJ for its decision to not allow full and transparent access to information as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange did in 2010.
#PanamaPapers: If you censor more than 99% of the documents you are engaged in 1% journalism by definition.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 6, 2016
While WikiLeaks helped uncover a series of power abuses in countries like those in the Middle East nearly six years ago, it also caused a lot of collateral damage by publishing the sensitive data on the internet in a searchable format.
Just as a recent example, last October WikiLeaks released documents allegedly hacked from CIA Director John Brennan’s personal email account in a bid to expose the so-called “architect” of the U.S. drone war and torture programs. But in doing so, the website doxed many other people connected to Brennan who did not have anything to do with his work for the U.S. government.
The Panama Papers is a 2.6-terabyte treasure trove of highly sensitive data, which was carefully investigated and kept a secret by hundreds of journalists all over the world until it was revealed this week.
While the ICIJ’s funding from U.S. government agencies is debatable, its decision to not disclose the documents at once, unlike WikiLeaks, seems to be the right one as far as journalistic ethics are concerned.