After becoming frustrated with the growing emphasis on its founder Julian Assange, the computer hacker group, Anonymous, is stepping away from WikiLeaks, reported the Guardian.
This comes after the website began asking its users on Thursday to pay for access to read the large number of leaked documents on it.
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The Anonymous Twitter account, AnonymousIRC, posted a statement with its displeasure, depicting WikiLeaks as “the one man Julian Assange show.” It added:
“The idea behind WikiLeaks was to provide the public with information that would otherwise be kept secret by industries and governments. Information we strongly believe the public has a right to know,” said the statement on behalf of Anonymous.
“But this has been pushed more and more into the background, instead we only hear about Julian Assange, like he had dinner last night with Lady Gaga. That’s great for him, but not much of our interest. We are more interested in transparent governments and bringing out documents and information they want to hide from the public.”
With an audience of 285,000 followers, Anonymous also tweeted that WikiLeaks was an “awesome idea ruined by egos” and said the site had abandoned the ideals of freedom of expression.
For Anonymous, it was a loyal and outspoken ally to WikiLeaks. Supporters carrying Anonymous posters would attend Assange’s public announcements, and members have gone up against critics of the site through an online campaign, according to the Guardian.
Back in happier times, the two groups spoke about a partnership to release files.
But things have changed and Anonymous has been unhappy for awhile. It also said in its statement:
We have been worried about the direction WikiLeaks is going for a while. In the recent month the focus moved away from actual leaks and the fight for freedom of information further and further, while it concentrated more and more on Julian Assange. It goes without saying that we oppose any plans of extraditing Julian to the USA. He is a content provider and publisher, not a criminal.”
In the past, WikiLeaks has received funding from public donations, but this may have changed thanks to the site’s donation page . It read, “In this election, vote with your wallet – vote Wikileaks’, you are required to donate before being granted access.”
Payment is accepted through either Mastercard or Visa.
Want to read WikiLeaks documents? Give money to the website.
WikiLeaks responded via Twitter that the change came from “high costs in military courts”. Site founder, Julian Assange, defended the pay wall, and said via ZDNet,”these donations go to fund WikiLeaks’ publishing and infrastructure costs and our legal costs to fight the financial blockade.”
In addition, Assange said a little more about Anonymous’ anger:
“Regardless of any workarounds, the fact remains that a meretricious page is placed for the majority of visitors that cannot be closed. The obvious intention is to force donations in exchange for access. This is a filthy and rotten, wholly un-ethical action – and Anonymous is enraged.”
The controversial site owner is currently hiding out in the London-based Ecuadorian embassy.