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[UPDATE] WikiLeaks: Website Will NOT Be Abandoned, Calls Supposed Insider A “Troll”

UPDATE 2:34PM EST: WikiLeaks representative Daniel Schmitt told Geekosystem that he “couldnt [sic] even imagine a reason” why founder Julian Assange would be exiting from the website. In his e-mail response, he warned against having “fed the troll calling himself an insider,” writing:

The .is domain registration was supposed to happen much earlier, and I am more or less astonished it has only now happened. We control around 500+ domain names, and try to get wikileaks in as many TLDs as possible. This is a normal action to occur, has nothing to do with us moving to Iceland or anywhere else. WikiLeaks is as it is, and will stay the same, apart from a few changes and new features we have already publicly announced.

Re the legal team I am not aware of this issue. As much as I can tell, though based in Europe and not a lawyer, our legal team is working on this and has so far not been able to get in touch with Manning.

According to Schmitt, a press release will be pending, a point reiterated on the WikiLeaks Twitter account: “WikiLeaks will NOT be abandoned. Don’t listen to disinfo being spread! We’ll issue clarifications soon. Should’ve done earlier.” Read the original story after the break, in which an “insider” alleged that Wikileaks.org would be abandoned.

ORIGINAL STORY:

An insider source says that whistleblower site WikiLeaks.org is being deserted entirely, according to anti-secrecy site Cryptome. Reclusive founder Julian Assange will reportedly no longer “commit … time and effort into restoring our website,” the tipster writes, and instead plans to launch an entirely new website based in Iceland, though only ostensibly.

The link used by WikiLeaks.org visitors to submit classified documents is currently down. Supposedly, Assange did not offer any information regarding user options, facilities, or even a timeline for the new planned website.

Since the fateful arrest of 22-year-old intelligence analyst PFC Bradley Manning, responsible for leaking the “Collateral Murder” video as well as over 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks has suffered intense scrutiny from both the web and Pentagon officials alike. Critics say the website–which publishes thousands of sensitive or classified documents–endangers national security, whereas supporters praise it as a bastion of free speech.

With the funding problems that have plagued WikiLeaks in the past year–notably, the site was suspended in late December “to deal with a shortage of funds” and only reinstated on May 19–it’s perhaps unsurprising that the whistleblowing initiative is closing shop. Despite an e-mail sent by Assange requesting $50,000 in donations to pay off “production costs” and a legal team’s travel costs, no lawyers have been provided for Manning on WikiLeaks’ behalf and no representative has visited the leaker during his detention in Kuwait.

Just where did the money go? Over a week ago, insiders expressed concern on an encrypted board about Wikileaks’ supposedly non-transparent accounting:

WIKILEAKS internal structure is becoming more of a closed shop than ever. What really is beginning to concern us is the increasing lack of accounting for donations received from internet donors. There is absolutely no accounting in terms of monies received and expenditures. In addition to this, Assange is the only person with direct access to WIKILEAKS funds. The lack of large donations is beginning to expose WIKILEAKS to undesirable political influence. WIKILEAKS is receiving keep alive donations from the Movement Party in Iceland. This is a small group of left wing politicians in the Icelandic parliament. Sooner or later it will be payback time. And payback will be in the form of political bias in WIKILEAKS output.

Our (ACTIVISTS) internal estimates put Assange’s personal expenditure including business class air travel, accommodation and personal expenses at $52,000 from April 1st 2010 to July 1st 2010.

So what is Assange, on the run from U.S. officials, doing behind the scenes?

On July 7, a new domain at WikiLeaks.is surfaced, directing users to the WikiLeaks site and registered to an “Antoine Croes” from the Netherlands. An attempt to reach him via phone was unsuccessful, but the name may merely be a privacy service front to protect the identity of the real domain owner.

A reverse IP lookup indicates that 15 other domains are hosted on the same web server as wikileaks.is, including sunshinepress.org and wikileaks.org; this suggests the .is domain is in fact legitimately associated with the WikiLeaks groups. A DNS check reveals that the domain is controlled by four name servers at intzix.net. Incoming mail for wikileaks.is processed by two mail servers also at intzix.net, with different IP networks: wikileaks.is has one number, but the reverse is host-88-80-2-32.cust.prq.se, meaning that though the domain name suffix is Iceland-based, it is in fact hosted in Sweden.

Of course, with all the secretive information being whizzed about, it only makes sense that such cloaking techniques are used to confuse the servers’ locations. Is this merely a transition in WikiLeaks’ publishing strategy, or an entirely new initiative? We have yet to see.

Geekosystem has asked WikiLeaks to comment, but at the time of this post’s publication, we have yet to receive a reply.

(via Cryptome.)

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