Oct 12, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
(FT) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost another high-profile supporter as Anonymous, the hacking collective, said the whistleblowing site had been “ruined by egos”.
Anonymous, a loose group of internet “hacktivists”, has been one of WikiLeaks’ closest allies during the past two years, launching cyber attacks against the site’s opponents and, some claim, becoming a source of its material. But leading Anonymous accounts on Twitter, which rallied behind WikiLeaks and Mr Assange despite his legal and financial woes, have now withdrawn their support, decrying the freedom-of-information project as a “One Man Julian Assange show”.
Calling the split “the end of an era”, Anonymous tweeted: “It was an awesome idea, ruined by egos.”
Anonymous rushed to WikiLeaks’ aid in December 2010 when the whistleblowing site faced what it has described as an “economic blockade” from payments processing companies.
Anonymous’ attacks caused service interruptions to MasterCard, Visa and PayPal websites, and the group has remained loyal to Mr Assange and his site throughout his extradition battle over allegations of sexual assault, and despite a crackdown from police around the world against the hackers.
However, in the same week that saw Mr Assange’s bail guarantors forced by a court to pay £93,500 after he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in London, Anonymous lashed out at the WikiLeaks founder and his latest fundraising attempt.
WikiLeaks this week erected a banner advertisement asking for donations before allowing visitors to access emails purportedly relating to Mitt Romney, the US presidential candidate, and its other archives. Anonymous described the move as “meretricious”.
“We have been worried about the direction WikiLeaks is going for a while,” Anonymous wrote in an online statement published overnight on Friday. “In the recent month the focus moved away from actual leaks and the fight for freedom of information further and further while it concentrated more and more on Julian Assange … But WikiLeaks is not – or should not be – about Julian Assange alone.”