Former Wikileaks Staffer Admits Deleting Files

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A former employee of the whistleblowing site has admitted to deleting thousands of unpublished files

A former Wikileaks employee has admitted to deleting thousands of unpublished files that were entrusted to the whistleblowing website.

The claims were made by Daniel Domscheit-Berg (DDB), a former spokesman for Wikileaks before he fell out with founder Julian Assange.

Domscheit-Berg told the German newspaper Der Spiegel that he had deleted 3,500 unpublished files obtained from confidential informants. It seems the information they contained is now permanently lost.

Safe handling

The deleted documents were reportedly stored on the WikiLeaks server until late summer 2010, when Domscheit-Berg left the organisation, taking the files with him when he departed.

According to Domscheit-Berg, he doubted Julian Assange could guarantee safe handling of the documents and deleted the files to ensure the sources were not compromised.

The files seem to have included a complete copy of the US governement’s no-fly list of terrorism suspects who are forbidden from boarding aircraft flying within or to the United States.

Wikileaks confirmed that Domscheit-Berg had deleted the files in a Twitter posting.

“We can confirm that the DDB claimed destroyed data included a copy of the entire US no-fly list,” it tweeted. It then tweeted that DDB had also deleted five gigabytes from the Bank of America, as well as internal communications belonging to 20 Neo-Nazi organisations.

And even more sinister, the deleted documents are also said to include US intercept information for “over a hundred internet companies.”

However it should be noted that Domscheit-Berg has not confirmed these later claimed document deletions.

Bad Blood

There is little doubt that bad blood now exists between Domscheit-Berg and Julian Assange.

Domscheit-Berg had urged the Wikileaks founder to step back from his public role amid accusations of sexual misconduct in Sweden. And Domscheit-Berg has now created his own whistleblowing site,  the OpenLeaks project.

Meanwhile a statement attributed to Julian Assange apparently explained the reasons for the departure of Domscheit-Berg from Wikileaks, and made a number of serious allegations about the former spokesman.

“On 25 August 2010, WikiLeaks suspended former employee Daniel Domscheit-Berg,” Assange wrote. He went on to allege that Domscheit-Berg tried to blackmail Wikileaks for the return of the deleted documents.

Whatever the facts behind the case, it is clear there is little love lost between the two former colleagues.

The case does highlight the threat posed by disgruntled former employees.

This was highlighted last week when it emerged that a disgruntled US IT administrator had deleted multiple virtual hosts at Japanese pharmaceutical firm Shionogi after being let go.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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