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19th Jan 2020

WikiLeaks copycat site targets EU institutions

  • Statue outside EU commission building in Brussels. Brussels Leaks says documents are leaked 'very often' in the EU capital (Photo: guppiefish)

A self-funded group of former EU officials and NGO, media and PR-sector workers based in Belgium has set up an EU version of WikiLeaks, in what is just one of several copycat sites springing up since Cablegate began.

Brusselsleaks.com, which set up shop on Thursday (9 December), has a homepage on the WordPress blog-hosting service and has invited people to anonymously send in sensitive EU-related documents using an encrypted contact form.

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Unlike WikiLeaks, Brussels Leaks will not publishing anything itself but will instead check the documents' authenticity and pass them on to selected media.

The site is planning to shortly release its first batch of papers in the transport and energy sector. "In terms of submissions, we have already had a few via the website which is a good sign," a Brussels Leaks contact said in comments emailed to EUobserver on Monday.

"Our ideology is that the EU can be a huge cause for good, but people rightly distrust it because so much appears to happen behind closed doors. By drawing attention to this and its failings, we hope the EU institutions will work to improve their transparency and ensure the voice of the citizen is clearly heard over that of industry, which currently holds far too much sway in Brussels."

The contact added that "documents are leaked very often" in the EU capital but the relatively small number of EU officials and diplomats in the city means that people are wary of publishing them in order not to hurt their sources.

The most ambitious post-Cablegate project so far is shaping up to be OpenLeaks.

Set up in Germany by WikiLeaks co-founder-turned-malcontent Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the site plans to distribute encryption software to bodies such as trade unions, charities and media so that whistleblowers have more choice where to entrust secret documents.

Speaking in an interview with German magazine Deutsche Welle on Tuesday, Mr Domscheit-Berg said OpenLeaks is installing "mechanisms" to ensure people cannot use its tools to set up "closed" networks.

"We do not want to enable companies to enable whistleblowing systems where they are informed about something that's going on in their company and they can get rid of the problem before it gets to the public," he said.

An associated OpenLeaks foundation will also lobby for pro-transparency laws in Germany.

Another post-Cablegate site, BalkanLeaks.eu, based in Bulgaria but using servers in Canada is to focus on organised crime and high-level corruption in the region.

"There are plenty of people out there that want to change the Balkans for good and are ready to take on the challenge. We're offering them a hand," the people behind the site said in a statement on their homepage.

Further afield, IndoLeaks.org, set up last Friday, is registered in the US but is aimed at lifting the lid on politics in Indonesia.

The site in the past four days published material including a declassified conversation between the late Indonesian dictator Suharto and former US President Gerald Ford; a conversation between Suharto and President Nixon; material on the East Timor conflict; on the murder of activist Munir Said Thalib; on a 1965 coup attempt by sections of the armed forces; and government reports on two natural disasters.

The site has been dogged by technical problems and could not be accessed on Tuesday morning.

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