Anonymous withdraws WikiLeaks support over paywall

Anonymous withdraws WikiLeaks support over paywall

Anonymous and WikiLeaks have a long history of working together to battle what they consider to be corrupt companies and regimes, but a recent paywall erected by WikiLeaks to help supplement the website’s operations has drawn fire from the hacker collective.

In a note posted to AnonPaste.me, Anonymous said “WikiLeaks has chosen to dishonor and insult Anonymous and all information activists” by requiring payment to view documents it previously made available for free.

Those documents include the Global Intelligence Files (GI Files) obtained via the December 2011 hack of security firm Stratfor. On Wednesday, WikiLeaks said it would start releasing 200,000 documents related to the US presidential election. This week, specifically, WikiLeaks published “over 13,734 emails referring to republican(s), Romney, RNC and/or GOP, ranging from 3rd January 2011 to 19th December 2011,” the organisation said in a statement.

“Through this release WikiLeaks aims to inform the U.S. electorate in an unbiased way through the release of source documents from one of the most oddly influential companies in the U.S. today,” WikiLeaks said.

As Anonymous pointed out, however, “visitors of the WikiLeaks site are presented [with] a red overlay page that demands they donate money. This page cannot be closed, and unless a donation is made – the content like GI Files are not displayed.”

The paywall can be circumvented by disabling Javascript, but Anonymous complained that the average visitor will not know how to do that. The blockade reportedly disappeared at one point, but later returned “for every single file,” Anonymous said. “Enough!”

This amounts to WikiLeaks “prostituting” the documents it has obtained. “In the past year the focus has moved away from actual leaks and the fight for freedom of information and concentrated more and more on Julian Assange and a rabid scrounging for money,” Anonymous said.

Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks, is currently holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Ecuador has offered Assange political asylum, but UK officials are trying to extradite Assange to Sweden, where he faces sexual misconduct charges. If Assange leaves the embassy,  authorities have vowed to arrest him immediately.

In the wake of WikiLeaks releasing 250,000 State Department cables in 2010, meanwhile, major payment organisations stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks, resulting in a major cash flow issue for the organisation. In July, however, Reykjavik’s District Court ordered Valitor, formerly Visa Iceland, which handles Visa and MasterCard payments in Iceland, to re-open credit card payments to WikiLeaks within two weeks.

But after companies like MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and Amazon stopped supporting Wikileaks, Anonymous stepped in and organised distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against the companies’ websites in retaliation. Some services were taken offline, while others simply experienced a slowdown, but ultimately, a number of Anonymous hackers around the world were arrested for the attacks.

Anonymous took issue with the fact that “not ONE single WikiLeaks staff are charged or incarcerated” (Assange might beg to differ), while 14 Anonymous members have landed themselves in legal hot water.

Anonymous said it will not attack Wikileaks because it does not attack media organisations (though Anonymous-affiliated group LulzSec did attack PBS). “But what we will do is cease from this day all support of any kind for WikiLeaks or Julian Assange,” the group said.

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