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Want to leak to Julian Assange? An Aussie PO box is your only shot

Julian Assange's WikiLeaks group continues to make headlines. But would-be leakers will have a tough time sending information.

By Staff writer / July 14, 2011

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, arrives in Britain's Royal Courts of Justice for his extradition appeal in central London, Wednesday, July 13. Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden where he's wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault.

Sang Tan/AP

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For people like me, the WikiLeaks story has it all: Candid revelations about US relations with foreign governments. A major security breach in the US military. And questions about media ethics and law in the digital age.

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But when I've written about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, it's generally been to either use the diplomatic cables in general reporting or to correct the record on the group's influence in the Middle East. I haven't really looked at WikiLeaks in itself – the technical details of how it enables a leaker to secretly and securely provide information over the internet without direct threat of getting caught – and I've also ignored, for the most part, the odd characters and strange quirks of hacker culture.

So I was brought up short when reading Steve Fishman's fascinating piece on Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking thousands of US diplomatic cables and US army field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan who is currently in jail. Tucked away on page 7 of the New York Magazine article, in a passage on how Mr. Assange has alienated many former collaborators, he writes about how Daniel Domscheit-Berg, "fed up with what he saw as Assange’s dictatorial ways, defected to launch his own site – ­OpenLeaks. Perhaps more important, WikiLeaks’ technology architect departed with him. And so, for the past year, WikiLeaks has been unable to receive leaked documents online."

This is apparently well known to people who've been following the story closely (Michael Parenti, who's been very helpful with all this, was gently laughing at me on Twitter). But it's still fascinating. What it means is that the potential flow of online information to WikiLeaks, the organization's reason for being, is shut off. If you visit the group's online submissions page there is still a bullet point on "our anonymous electronic drop box" that "Its (sic) easy to submit" to.

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