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Teen buys WikiLeaks server for $33,000 – with dad's eBay account

'A serious conversation' to be had, dad says

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The eBay auction of a server formerly used by WikiLeaks has ended with a closing bid of more than $30,000, but the 17-year-old winner will not receive his goods because he bid on the equipment using his father's eBay account without his permission.

The youth, whose name has been withheld, bid eight times during the ten-day auction period, starting at $10,200 and eventually winning the auction with a final bid of $33,000.

When his father heard the news, Wired reports, he was "speechless".

"My son is 17 years old and is crazy about conspiracy theory," the man, described as an industrial maintenance worker living near Lisbon, Portugal, said by way of explanation.

"Crazy" might be right, because even the most avid tin-foil-hatter would be unlikely to find much of interest in the Dell PowerEdge R410 server, which was put up for auction by Swedish internet service provider Bahnhof.

Although WikiLeaks did at one time use the server to host sensitive data, including the infamous Iraq War documents, it was unplugged in June 2011 and the company says it has since wiped all of the data from it according to Department of Defense specifications.

At the time of the auction, Bahnhof said it had put the box on the block as "a historical curiosity," and that proceeds from the sale would go to the nonprofit media defense organization Reporters Without Borders and Swedish free-speech activist group the 5th of July Foundation.

But WikiLeaks took issue with the auction, saying Bahnhof had not asked its permission to auction the server – or to give the proceeds to someone else – and suggesting that Bahnhof was trading on the document-leaking outfit's good name "for marketing purposes."

In its defense, Bahnhof said it didn't need to ask permission because WikiLeaks had only rented the server.

The way it looks now, it looks as though the disputed Dell will go to the auction's runner-up, who bid $32,900 – provided, of course, that nothing turns out to be fishy with that bid, as well.

As for the father of the 17-year-old who placed the original winning bid, however, we suspect he's no longer as speechless as he was when he first heard the news. In an apologetic email sent to Bahnhof on Thursday, he said he had yet to properly discuss the matter with the teen, but that "A more serious conversation will be tomorrow." ®

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