WikiLeaks Spokesman Deserts Company

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All is not well in the house that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange built. The spokesman for the whistle-blower site quit and on Monday gave a candid interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel. Daniel Schmitt, the 32-year-old former spokesman, described Assange as power hungry and divisive. Schmitt apparently left WikiLeaks due to disagreements with Assange about the company's priorities (Schmitt wanted more locally resonant materials published) and how it was run. He tells Der Spiegel:

Julian Assange reacted to any criticism with the allegation that I was disobedient to him and disloyal to the project. Four weeks ago, he suspended me--acting as the prosecutor, judge, and hangman in one person. Since then, for example, I have had no access to my WikiLeaks mail. So a lot of work is just sitting and other helpers are being blocked. I know that no one in our core team agreed with the move. But that doesn't seem to matter. WikiLeaks has a structural problem. I no longer want to take responsibility for it, and that's why I am leaving the project... There are technical problems and no one to take care of them. WikiLeaks is stuck in a phase in which the project has to change itself... This development is being blocked internally. It is no longer clear even to me who is actually making decisions and who is answerable to them.

As Schmitt hinted, he's not the only WikiLeaks staffer with serious grievances. Last night Wired magazine pulled the lid off a groundswell of in-house griping pertaining to unpublished Iraq war logs:

A domino chain of resignations at the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks followed a unilateral decision by autocratic founder Julian Assange to schedule an October release of 392,000 classified U.S. documents from the war in Iraq, according to former WikiLeaks staffers.

Key members of WikiLeaks were angered to learn last month that Assange had secretly provided media outlets with embargoed access to the vast database, under an arrangement similar to the one WikiLeaks made with three newspapers that released documents from the Afghanistan war in July. WikiLeaks is set to release the Iraq trove on Oct. 18, according to ex-staffers — far too early, in the view of some of them, to properly redact the names of U.S. collaborators and informants in Iraq.

“The release date which was established was completely unrealistic,” says 25-year-old Herbert Snorrason, an Icelandic university student who until recently helped manage WikiLeaks’ secure chat room. “We found out that the level of redactions performed on the Afghanistan documents was not sufficient. I announced that if the next batch did not receive full attention, I would not be willing to cooperate.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.