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WikiLeaks slams 'Panama Papers' strategy

Lewis Sanders IVApril 7, 2016

The whistleblowing organization has criticized the ICIJ's decision to not provide open access to the cache of documents. The ICIJ's director said the organization wants to show that 'journalism can be done responsibly.'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Arrizabalaga

WikiLeaks, the organization that published thousands of classified documents detailing the US military's activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, on Wednesday criticized the management of information with regards to the world's largest data leak, commonly known as the "Panama Papers."

"If you censor more than 99 percent of the documents, you are engaged in 1 percent journalism by definition," WikiLeaks said in a tweet.

The whistleblowing organization, led by its founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange (pictured above), on Monday launched a poll asking social media users on Twitter whether the "Panama Papers" should be made available online in their entirety in a similar vein to WikiLeaks' hallmark publishing style.

However, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) Director Gerard Ryle told US magazine "Wired" that the documents would not be published online, arguing that it could expose sensitive information of private individuals and public figures.

"We're not WikiLeaks. We're trying to show that journalism can be done responsibly," Ryle said.

Panama Papers: A scandal of global proportions

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic investigative journalist, told Russia's international broadcaster RT that he disagreed with the ICIJ's decision.

"I do have a sympathy to stalled releases. We certainly did that in WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011 with the 'Diplomatic Cables' … but in the end, the entire cache was put online in a searchable database," Hrafnsson said.

"That is what I'd want to see with these 'Panama Papers.' They should be available to the general public in such a manner so everybody, not just the group of journalists working directly on the data, can search it," Hrafnsson added.

The "Panama Papers" comprise some 11.5 million documents leaked to Germany's "Süddeutsche Zeitung." The data was shared with the ICIJ, which coordinated with news outlets across the globe to publish information found in the leak.

At least 28 German banks were identified in the papers, including Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, according to reports.

Hiding money is easy

ls/jm (AP, dpa)