Wikileaks considers paying wages

German weekly Der Freitag reports Wikileaks is considering paying its members wages in order to keep on functioning.

Daniel Schmitt, the site’s German spokesperson, told the newspaper his savings had been all but used up. He had previously stated on German television that he was living from money he saved up from a regular day job. Wikileaks will be having a discussion in order to determine how much to pay its full-time activists. A monthly wage of 1,500 to 2,500 euro is being considered.

Schmitt also added it were difficult to communicate with the press at the moment, as he himself has an 18 hour day. Some persons have been criticising the site in the last few weeks for lack of transparency and various rumours were spread, none of which have proven to be true. One such rumour was that Wikileaks would move to Iceland. Schmitt denied this, stating it is more likely that the site would set up an office in Berlin. Moving all servers to a single geographic location was also not in the interest of Wikileaks.

As for a return to full functionality, Schmitt commented Wikileaks was sitting on “mountains of material, which we don’t want to keep to ourselves. We still need a few servers”. He announced a few new releases in the next couple of weeks, one being a video of a bombing in Afghanistan, the other emails of members of German far-right extremist party Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD).

All European donations and funds wired over Paypal are managed by the Wau Holland Foundation, which has its seat in Germany. The foundation itself is legally recognised as a charity and has to file reports with its local tax office, as well as the regional council of Kassel.

Hendrik Fulda, the foundation’s chairman, told TechEye ten days ago that “we plan to provide a overview on where donations are coming from.” He added the foundation needed “to set up a approach which is efficient going forward.” Schmitt says Wikileaks is likely to give an overview of how donations from the USA have been used.

As for the “Friends of Wikileaks” action, the activists are supposed to start foundations in their respective countries. The foundations were compared to the charitable Panter Foundation of German newspaper Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), which supports the TAZ Academy, an editorial traineeship and the Panter Prize. These new foundations will be used to bundle activities of voluntary and full-time supporters. According to Schmitt, talks have already been held in Germany in regards to such a foundation.

In the end, it all depends on donations from individuals wishing to support Wikileaks. Schmitt however expects the cash flow to stay steady. Hopefully so, as the work Wikileaks has been doing since 2006 is sorely needed. After all, journalism and public opinion should be based on source materials, not embedded reporting and tidbits served from governments and corporations.