WikiLeaks whistleblower site in temporary shutdown


WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website that allows people to publish uncensored information anonymously, has suspended operations owing to financial problems.

Its running costs including staff payments are $600,000 (£377,000), but so far this year it has raised just $130,000 (£81,000).

WikiLeaks has established a reputation for publishing information that traditional media cannot.

The website claims to be non-profit and relies on donations.

A statement on its front page says it is funded by “human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public”.

Original documents

WikiLeaks does not accept money from governments or corporations.

A list of names and addresses of people said to belong to the British National Party (BNP) was posted on the site in October 2009.

WikiLeaks also published e-mail exchanges involving US politician Sarah Palin after her account was hacked.

The site claims to have information about corrupt banks, the UN and the Iraq war that it is unable to publish while funds remain low.

While it has won awards for its work from the Economist and Amnesty International, WikiLeaks has also fought more than 100 legal challenges.

“WikiLeaks has established a good name for itself and broken some good stories,” Julian Petley, chair of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, told BBC News.

“One of the reasons why WikiLeaks is so useful is that it’s able to put original documents up – unfiltered by comment and editorial.”

Investigative journalist Paul Lashmar said he had been “startled” by the effectiveness of WikiLeaks in publishing suppressed information.

However he thought that the funding issue would not be easily resolved.

“(Web) users aren’t interested in how the people behind sites make their money,” he said.

“The problem for the self-funding model is that sites like WikiLeaks will not find it easy to attract funding through advertising.

“At some point people who care about free speech will realise that free speech has to be funded, otherwise it’s not free.”