German foundation paid WikiLeaks $585,000 in 2010

By Juergen Baetz

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 26 2011 12:30 p.m. MDT

FILE - The Feb. 7, 2011 file photo shows WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arriving at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London. WikiLeaks' self-described main financial backer supported the organization through donations totaling euro 402,000 (US$ 585,000) last year, a German foundation said Tuesday, April 26, 2011 providing a rare glimpse into the group's finances. The Wau Holland Foundation received euro 1.3 million in donations for the WikiLeaks in 2010, with some euro 500,000 of that sum coming after the website started publishing a huge throve of U.S. diplomatic cables late last year, the foundation said in a report.

Kirsty Wigglesworth, files, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

BERLIN — WikiLeaks' self-described main financial backer supported the organization through donations totaling €402,000 ($585,000) last year, a German foundation said Tuesday, providing a rare glimpse into the group's finances.

The Wau Holland Foundation received €1.3 million in donations for the WikiLeaks in 2010, with some €500,000 of that sum coming within a month of the website starting to publish a huge trove of U.S. diplomatic cables late last year, the foundation said in a report.

While the organization says it is fighting for transparency and freedom of information, it has been accused of being overly secretive regarding its own functioning and financing.

The foundation said it paid WikiLeaks €143,000 to finance its campaigns of leaking documents to the public, covering costs stemming from "reviewing and editing incoming material, video editing, analyzing and arranging a large number of documents ... and much more."

Another €104,000 was paid in regular allowances to "a few project managers and activists."

The report was not explicit about how much of this money was paid to WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange.

About €60.000 was paid to maintain WikiLeaks' hardware, another €62,000 for travel costs — "usually flights, train tickets in the Economy Class" — and €33,000 in legal fees, said the report, which was published on the foundation's website.

It also said legal fees were only reimbursed in relation with the organization's campaigns and not paid for "personal legal advice or defending someone in court" — a reference to Assange's attempts at fighting his extradition from Britain to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual molestation.

Donations for the organization spiked after WikiLeaks published the U.S. cables late in November 2010, with donations in December adding up to €500,000 — or about 40 percent of the year's total.

WikiLeaks' PayPal donation account last year redirected to the Wau Holland Foundation, but PayPal canceled the account on December 4, following pressure against the organization in the wake of the publication of the confidential U.S. cables.

Still, in the first four days of December, people donated WikiLeaks €103,000 through the account, the report said. Another €400,000 in December came in through bank transfers.

About 35 percent of the 2010 donations to WikiLeaks through the PayPal account came from the U.S., 14 percent from Germany and 12 percent from Britain. About six percent each came from Australia and Canada.

The report provided no information on donations in the first months of 2011 and calls to the foundation rang unanswered.

Wau Holland is a small foundation, named after a German hacker who died in 2001. Its endowment stood at €63,000 at the end of 2009, a year in which it received €18,000 in donations.

WikiLeaks' was accepted as a new project in 2009, but only €518 was then paid to the organization, according to the foundation's financial report.

WikiLeaks' latest leak over the weekend published U.S. military documents on detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility.

In February, a British judge ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual molestation against two women. A two-day appeal hearing is scheduled to begin July 12.

Assange denies wrongdoing and is living on bail at a supporter's rural mansion in eastern England.

Authorities in the United States are investigating whether WikiLeaks violated U.S. laws by releasing tens of thousands of secret government documents.

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