The Tech Herald

Former WikiLeaks associate destroyed potentially explosive documents

by Steve Ragan - Aug 22 2011, 10:00

Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the former spokesperson for WikiLeaks, is said to have destroyed more than 3,000 documents, taken when he left the organization. Based on statements from WikiLeaks, the documents would have been explosive to say the least, considering the topics they covered.

The news comes from German reporters at Der Spiegel, who said that more than 3,500 unpublished files were gone, after Daniel Domscheit-Berg claimed to have destroyed them. The documents were taken by Domscheit-Berg when he left WikiLeaks. They were destroyed, according to Der Spiegel, to prevent the sources from being compromised.

“We can confirm that the DDB claimed destroyed data included a copy of the entire US no-fly list,” WikiLeaks said in a comment on Twitter.

In addition, WikiLeaks said that the data lost also included five gigabytes from the Bank of America, the internals of around 20 neo-Nazi organizations, and US intercept arrangements for over a hundred internet companies.

Based on public statements, the destruction happened after Domscheit-Berg failed to use the data to blackmail WikiLeaks.

“Over the last 11 months, we have tried to negotiate the return of various materials taken by Mr. Domscheit-Berg, including internal communications and over 3000 unpublished, private whistleblower communications to WikiLeaks. Mr. Domscheit-Berg has repeatedly attempted to blackmail WikiLeaks by threatening to make available, to forces that oppose WikiLeaks, these private communications... He has stated he will commit this action, should WikiLeaks move to charge him with sabotage or theft. Mr. Domscheit-Berg has refused to return the various materials he has stolen, saying he needs them, solely, to carry out this threat,” a statement from WikiLeaks explained.

“The negotiations have now been terminated by the mediator, Andy Müller-Maguhn, who has stated that he doubts Mr. Domscheit-Berg's integrity and claimed willingness to return the material and that under those circumstances Müller-Maguhn cannot meaningfully continue to mediate. In response, Mr. Domscheit-Berg has stated that he has, or is about to, destroy thousands of unpublished whistleblowers disclosures sent to WikiLeaks.”

[Julian Assange also released a statement, you can read that here.]

The statement later explains that the source identities for the lost material were not at risk, due to policies preventing WikiLeaks from collecting or retaining source identifying information. This renders the reported logic from Domscheit-Berg moot, because if true, there was no worry of source compromise.

However, the lost data is damning to say the least. Like other news agencies, The Tech Herald would have been interested in the intercept agreements, as well as the BoA data. Sadly, it would appear that no one will ever know the full contents.

For the curious, there is no mention on either side about releasing the AES key needed to unlock the “insurance” file, or if the lost documents are contained within it.

Additional coverage and background can be seen here and here.

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