Czech WikiLeaks site launches
Pirate Party aims to draw whistleblowers exposing corruption
Posted: December 22, 2010
Pirate Leaks - New site inspired by Wikileaks
The Czech Pirate Party (ČPS) has launched its own version of the globally known whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
The party's new site, Pirateleaks.cz, went online Dec. 21. It features a drop-box system that allows whistleblowers to send documents anonymously for publication on the site.
Speaking ahead of the launch, the party's project coordinator for PirateLeaks, Jakub Michálek, who is also a board member of Pirate Parties International, said the first releases on the new site will "disclose both local and global documents."
The Czech branch of the new political movement, which advocates freedom of information and open government in more than 40 countries, says it wants Pirateleaks.cz to become an instrument of change for the public to influence the authorities and society at large.
The party is already hosting a mirror, or duplicate, site of WikiLeaks at Wikileaks.piratskastrana.cz to ensure that information remains available to the public from the site, which has been hampered by recent cyber attacks and service withdrawals.
"PirateLeaks should help the media to easily disclose the information that they get their hands on but fail to publish due to various reasons," he said.
"The best-case scenario for the future is that departments and authorities would start publishing all relevant materials without prior notice, but there is still a long journey to that," Michálek said, adding he believed the Czech Republic "lags far behind Western Europe" in terms of public transparency.
Some are skeptical about the planned project, however. Media expert Jan Rylich questioned the release of information that would lead to security concerns.
"The original WikiLeaks website also released information that can threaten national security. If its Czech variant followed suit, it could generate more problems than it solves," Rylich told the Czech News Agency (ČTK).
Michálek said the site's Web editors would verify the authenticity of all information they receive and evaluate whether its release could threaten human lives.
"By no means will we release the documents carelessly. We'll verify all documents thoroughly to find out whether they threaten the interest of the Czech Republic, lives, property or health," he said.
As well as documents of national importance, the site will give an opportunity for people to point to controversial events or developments in their home towns, he said.
"Local newspapers will find PirateLeaks to be a reliable source of information, and will be able to inform them on local cases that are closest to citizens," Miroslav Brož, ČPS leader in Ústí nad Labem, said in a party statement.
Firms refuse payments
Meanwhile, a group of the world's biggest financial companies including Bank of America, PayPal, MasterCard and Visa have refused to process payments for WikiLeaks over the site's vow to publish a volume of data about a large U.S. bank, The New York Times reported Dec. 19.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called on his supporters to boycott Bank of America in the wake of its refusal to service payments for the website, telling his followers on Twitter he urged "all people who love freedom close out their accounts at Bank of America."
In an interview with Forbes magazine last month, Assange said he would "take down" a major U.S. bank by releasing a cache of potentially embarrassing data already in his possession.
The 39-year-old Australian has returned to working on his secret-spilling website after being released on bail to the mansion of one of his supporters in the United Kingdom. Assange is currently fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sex crime allegations that his supporters say are politically motivated.
"I hope to continue my work and continue protesting my innocence on this matter," Assange told journalists outside the London court Dec. 16.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has said it is considering whether to bring charges against Assange over his release of confidential documents, The New York Times reported Dec. 16.
"I don't have too many fears about being extradited to Sweden," Assange said. "There are much bigger concerns about being extradited to the United States."
He has been ordered to report to police daily and wear an electronic tag after his supporters banded together to post his $315,000 bail.
Among them was controversial U.S. documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who said in an online statement he had donated $20,000 to keep WikiLeaks "alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars."
Bill Lehane can be reached at
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