Yesterday I asked some questions about WikiLeaks. Today I got a few answers.
WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Now Making $86k/year
WikiLeaks’ main financial arm, the Germany-based Wau Holland Foundation says it has collected about 1 million Euro ($1.3 million) in donations in 2010, the year in which WikiLeaks exploded into public prominence thanks to its release of thousands of classified U.S. documents, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.
Wau Holland is the primary but not sole financial provider for WikiLeaks, the Journal reports.
From those donations, Wau Holland has established a Greenpeace-like system of salary payments, as WikiLeaks attempts to legitimize its organization by moving away from purely volunteer-based work, the Journal reports. The move to make salaried employees allegedly comes after a year-long intense internal debate about whether to do so.
The main beneficiary has been founder Julian Assange, who has drawn 66,000 Euros (about $86,000) in salary thus far this year, the Journal reports. Wau Holland has paid a total of 100,000 Euros in salaries to the entire WikiLeaks staff, which means Assange is getting the lion’s share.
WikiLeaks will pay key personnel based on a salary structure developed by the environmental activist organization Greenpeace, the Journal reports. Under the structure, Greenpeace department heads are paid about 5,500 Euros in monthly salary, a Wau Holland spokesman said.
Among the many revelations from the Journal report are several indications that donations to WikiLeaks have dropped off significantly in the second half of the year.
By August, WikiLeaks had raised about 765,000 Euro, which means it has only raised about 235,000 Euro since then, the Journal reports.
Last summer, WikiLeaks said it operated on about 150,000 Euro a year. Now, however, the foundation says it has paid about 380,000 Euro in WikiLeaks expenses, with some invoices for the year still unprocessed. Some of that total is for hardware, Internet access and travel, a Wau Holland spokesman said. But a big factor in the leap is a recent decision to begin paying salaries to staff.
WikiLeaks had also allegedly promised to contribute half of the estimated $100,000 it will cost for the legal defense of Bradley Manning. Recently, however, a WikiLeaks spokesman said it would only donate around $20,000.
As of the writing of this report, it had still not contributed the funds. The Wau Holland Foundation is awaiting advice from its lawyers on whether the donation would be legal under German law, a spokesman told the Journal.
There is more detail at the Joe Moneybags Newsletter:
On the fundraising front, Mr. Assange in August said WikiLeaks had raised about $1 million (€763,000) since the beginning of 2010. He said the group got about half of its money from modest donations via its website, and the rest from “personal contacts,” including wealthy donors who give tens of thousands of dollars.
Much of this money was donated to the WikiLeaks account at the Wau Holland Foundation, Mr. Fulda said.
That last sentence is the part that triggers my bullshit detector. That’s a huge loophole in this story.
This isn’t WikiLeaks opening it’s books. This is an organization that collects SOME of the donations to WikiLeaks and supposedly pays all their bills. Mr. Fulda may be 100% honest, but where did he get his information? How does he know how much money was donated via other avenues?
A couple other things bother me. WikiLeaks profile has skyrocketed since August, but their receipts have gone down? How much money has been contributed to Assange’s legal defense fund? Who controls it?
Who is paying Assange’s living expenses? He doesn’t seem to pay for anything, he gets his fan club to support him. According to the Guardian he was staying rent free at Woman #1’s apartment and he got Woman #2 to pay for movie and train tickets. He’s staying in a mansion on a 300 acre estate right now.
I remain skeptical.
One last note – just because I don’t trust WikiLeaks doesn’t mean I trust the government. It’s not either/or.
Progressives say that right-wingers are paranoid. I don’t think progressives are paranoid enough.