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Wikileaks publishes secret donor list

Hoist by its own leaky petard

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Whistleblower website Wikileaks faced a dilemma this week when a list of email addresses for the site's donors was submitted as a leaked document.

The issue arose after a fund raising email on Saturday went out with all 58 addresses in the To field (instead of the bcc field). The all too common schoolboy error meant that all the recipients found out the online identities of other donors.

The list was promptly resubmitted as a leaked document which, to its credit, Wikileaks published along with the comment from the leaker that "WikiLeaks leaks its own donors, aww irony. BCC next time kthx".

In a note, Wikileaks described the list as a partial list of its donors, adding its speculation as to the likely motives of the leaker.

"A prankster, apparently connected to one of the donors, then submitted this list to Wikileaks, possibly to test the project's principles of complete impartiality when dealing with whistleblowers," it said.

Enterprisingly, the same page includes a link to make donations.

Some comments on the story try to reassure would-be leakers that the slip-up is unrelated to Wikileaks' procedures for protecting its sources.

"It doesn't reflect anything to do with the wikileaks source protection operations, which are separate to office admin," one comment states. "While the release of these addresses is not optimal, all such donations have bank records and confirmations that travel over plain email."

Other comments highlight concerns that the leaked list might be used to make life difficult for the controversial project. "Hopefully, Scientologists don't go after the people listed here. I wouldn't put it past them," one person notes.

Previous notable leaks that have come through the whistleblower website include Guantánamo Bay procedures, internal documents related to the Church of Scientology, the BNP membership list and a costing plan by Bavarian police related to a project to develop software capable of intercepting Skype traffic. ®

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