[photograph: Ukrainian activists hold a rally in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in front of the Swedish embassy to Ukraine in Kiev. REUTERS]
The Wall Street Journal has a report out today with details on Wikileaks' financial inner workings, from the foundation in Germany that pays the organization's bills.
Odd that this long-sought information would come out on Christmas Eve, but here's the short version of the story: spending is up, because they're paying salaries now (including $86K so far this year to Julian Assange), and they're "facing potential legal issues" (understatement of the millenium). Snip:
Wau Holland Foundation says it has collected about €1 million ($1.3 million) in donations in 2010, the year in which WikiLeaks exploded into public prominence thanks to its release of thousands of classified U.S. documents. WikiLeaks said in August that it had raised about €765,000 until that point in the year. The data from the foundation, which is a major but not the sole conduit of funding for the website, suggest donations to WikiLeaks have tampered off some since the organization landed in the headlines.
The Wau Holland Foundation provides key back-office services for WikiLeaks' operations by collecting donations and paying its bills. Last summer, WikiLeaks said it operated on about €150,000 a year. Now, however, the foundation says it has paid about €380,000 in WikiLeaks expenses, with some invoices for the year still unprocessed. Some of that total is for hardware, Internet access and travel, Wau Holland spokesman Hendrik Fulda said. But a big factor in the leap is a recent decision to begin paying salaries to staff.
The primary beneficiary of that decision–which has been hotly debated within WikiLeaks–is Mr. Assange, the controversial founder and public face of WikiLeaks who is currently under house arrest in the U.K., where he faces possible extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct.
WikiLeaks is said to have committed to paying half of the estimated $100K that Bradley Manning's legal defense is expected to cost, but a spokesman recently said the organization will now only donate around $20K. They have not yet contributed these funds. The WSJ reports that Wau Holland is said to be waiting for legal advice on whether such a donation is permitted under German law.
WikiLeaks Spending Ballooned, Data Show (WSJ, paid subscription required)