Hacktivist group Anonymous’ alliance with WikiLeaks appears to have come to an end last week after a public row over the organization’s recent fundraising attempt using the U.S. 2012 presidential election.
Last week, WikiLeaks erected a pay wall and posted a video of Julian Assange commenting on President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory speech.
The pay wall — which can be removed by donating to the site, or sharing the site’s fundraising campaign via Twitter and Facebook — incited a public response from well-known Anonymous-affiliated Twitter accounts YourAnonNews and AnonymousIRC.
While YourAnonNews was content to tell WikiLeaks to “please die in a fire,” AnonymousIRC posted a longer response on Pastebin.com, detailing its frustration over a perceived drift from the organization’s original mission.
“The conclusion for us is that we cannot support anymore what WikiLeaks has become — the One Man Julian Assange show,” AnonymousIRC wrote, stating that it still supported WikiLeaks’ original mission, which was the promotion of transparency and open governments.
AnonymousIRC was also sure to note that it does not speak for the Anonymous collective as a whole, although it was certain that many others within the collective agreed with its position.
WikiLeaks’ fundraising plea, however, is more than just a gimmick designed to attack the Obama administration. WikiLeaks — under siege by a nearly 18-month banking blockade by Visa, Mastercard and PayPal — suffered a severe drop in funds in 2011.
The blockade provoked Anonymous’ wrath against the banks in defense of WikiLeaks. The collective launched numerous attacks against the companies involved in the blockade, beginning in December 2010 and continuing throughout 2011.
WikiLeaks announced in July that it had found a way around the blockade that besieged the company. Through a deal with the Fund for the Defense of Net Neutrality, visitors can donate to the company once again via Visa and Mastercard.
Anonymous IRC — stating that was not against WikiLeaks’ fundraising in general — called out WikiLeaks over its financial issues. WikiLeaks, which was once criticized in 2010 over its funding disclosures, has spent more in recent years than it has taken in.
“According to the Transparency Report of the Wau Holland Stiftung,” AnonymousIRC wrote of the foundation in charge of dealing with WikiLeaks’ finances, “Julian received 72,000 Euros only for project coordination in 2011 — this does not include travel costs. And 265,000 Euros were spent on “campaigns.”
WikiLeaks is, of course, only one of several sites on the Internet devoted to the proliferation of information leaked by government whistle-blowers. Anonymous’ own WikiLeaks-esque site, Par:AnoIA, was launched in July.