Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s rationale behind his destruction of some 3,500+ unpublished files was that he had done it because Julian Assange and WikiLeaks could not guarantee the safe handling of the documents and the protection of their sources.
And, as it turns out, he was partially right – an encrypted file containing the entire cache of US diplomatic cables in all their unredacted glory has been leaked inadvertently online and, according to Wired, can be matched to the password for it that also made its way to the Internet.
The unedited cables contain names of informants and suspected spies in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Israel and Jordan, and if interested parties get their hands on them, these people’s lives might be severely endangered.
Former WikiLeaks staffer Herbert Snorrason, who is now a member of OpenLeaks, says that the publication of the elements of this dangerous two-piece puzzle was due to a series of lapses.
In short, the file containing the cables was included in the contents of the WikiLeaks’ server that Domscheit-Berg and his fellow defectors took with them when they left the organization. When they finally returned it, WikiLeaks supporters proceeded to publish it and failed to notice the encrypted file inside the batch.
As far as the password is concerned, Assange shared it with an external contact, ostensibly for security purposes. Unfortunately, that person published the password online a few months after that batch was published.
Snorrason says that this person isn’t a member of WikiLeaks or OpenLeaks, but doesn’t want to disclose who it is, because this knowledge could lead other people to the password.
Der Spiegel speculates that Domscheit-Berg or someone from OpenLeaks shared the information with Der Freitag, the first publication to run with the news and which apparently has access to both the encrypted file and the password, in order to prove the point of WikiLeaks’ inability to protect sources.
WikiLeaks commented on the issue by saying that “there has been no ‘leak at WikiLeaks’. The issue relates to a mainstream media partner and a malicious individual.”