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The online whistleblower WikiLeaks pushed for openness in leaking classified military documents last month, but the site works hard to keep its own secrets, particularly the sources of its funding.
The Wall Street Journal reports that WikLeaks has set up an elaborate global "system for collecting and disbursing its donations to obscure their origin and use."
Founder Julian Assange (pictured) told the newspaper the secrecy is necessary because WikiLeaks fears its financial infrastructure could be targeted by governments and corporations upset with the site's leaks.
WikiLeaks has already been sued by a number of parties, including a Swiss bank that alleged the site had published stolen bank documents. The bank eventually withdrew its suit.
"It's very hard work to run an organization, let alone one that's constantly being spied upon and sued," Assange told the Journal. "Judicial decisions can have an effect on an organization's operation . . . We can't have our cash flow constrained entirely."
Assange said WikiLeaks has raised about $1 million this year, mostly through donations through a foundation in Germany. The foundation is protected under German law, which says it can't publicly disclose the names of donors.
WikiLeaks takes advantage of similar protective laws in various countries, Assange said.
"We're registered as a library in Australia, we're registered as a foundation in France, we're registered as a newspaper in Sweden," Assange said.
WikiLeaks has two tax-exempt charitable organizations in the United States, known as 501C3s, that "act as a front" for the Web site, he told the Journal.
In July, WikiLeaks made headlines when it posted about 76,000 Afghanistan war documents, mostly raw intelligence reports. The site would not say who the leaker was. The White House condemned the document dump and military officials said the posting of the names of Afghans who have helped allied forces could jeopardize their safety.
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