Daniel Domscheit-Berg

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Daniel Domscheit-Berg
Daniel Domscheit-Berg at 26C3.jpg
Daniel Domscheit-Berg at 26C3, talking about WikiLeaks, 27 December 2009
Born 1978 (age 40–41)
Nationality German
Other names Daniel Schmitt
Known for Former spokesperson for WikiLeaks, founder of OpenLeaks

Daniel Domscheit-Berg (né Berg; born 1978), previously known under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, is a German technology activist.[1] He is best known for his role until September 2010 as a spokesperson for whistleblower organization WikiLeaks in Germany. He is the author of Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website (2011).[2]

After leaving WikiLeaks, he announced plans in January 2011 to open a new website for anonymous online leaks called OpenLeaks. At a Chaos Computer Club (CCC) event in August 2011, he announced its preliminary launch and invited hackers to test the security of the OpenLeaks system, as a result of which the CCC criticized him for exploiting the good name of the club to promote his OpenLeaks project and expelled him from their club, despite his lack of membership.[3] This decision was revoked in February 2012.[4] In September 2011, several news organizations cited Domscheit-Berg's split from Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as one of a series of events and errors that led to the release that month of all 251,287 United States diplomatic cables in the Cablegate affair.[5]

In 2011, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine in its FP Top 100 Global Thinkers, with Sami Ben Gharbia and Alexey Navalny. In his response to the Best Idea question for that article Domscheit-Berg stated Occupy Wall Street.[6]


Domscheit-Berg began working with WikiLeaks after meeting Assange at the Chaos Computer Club's annual conference (24C3) in 2007.[7] On 25 September 2010, after reportedly being suspended by Assange for questioning him too much, Domscheit-Berg told Der Spiegel that he was resigning, saying "WikiLeaks has a structural problem. I no longer want to take responsibility for it, and that's why I am leaving the project."[8][9][10]

Domscheit-Berg was highlighted in the Sveriges Television programme WikiRebels - The Documentary, released in the second week of December 2010.[11][dead link]

A book about his experience with and separation[12] from WikiLeaks was released in Germany in February 2011, entitled Inside WikiLeaks: Meine Zeit bei der gefährlichsten Website der Welt ("My Time at the World's Most Dangerous Website").[13] An English translation followed some days later by Australian publisher Scribe Publications.[14][15][16] In Domscheit-Berg's book he criticizes Julian Assange's leadership style and handling of the Afghan War Diaries.

Domscheit-Berg stated he would destroy WikiLeaks data when leaving WikiLeaks.[17] He wanted to be sure that duplicates would be confirmed deleted by a notary with an affidavit.[18] In leaving, WikiLeaks state that Domscheit-Berg representing OpenLeaks, held the organisation to ransom over the unpublished documents and internal organisation communications[19] with mediations by a member of the hacker collective Chaos Computer Club between OpenLeaks and WikiLeaks. Domscheit-Berg apparently told weekly Der Freitag that "I took no documents from WikiLeaks with me", leading to suspension of mediations.[16] Domscheit-Berg was eventually kicked out of Chaos Computer Club due to his conduct during the mediation and for requesting the Chaos Computer Club to test OpenLeaks' security.[16] This decision was revoked in February 2012 by the general assembly of the Chaos Computer Club.

WikiLeaks and other sources later confirmed the destruction of over 3500 unpublished whistleblower communications with some communications containing hundreds of documents,[16][18][20][21] including the US government's No Fly List,[22] 5 GB of Bank of America leaks,[23] insider information from 20 right-wing organizations[22][24] and proof of torture and government abuse of a Latin American country.[25]


In December 2010, Domscheit-Berg announced the intention to start a site named "OpenLeaks"[26] with the intention of being more transparent than WikiLeaks. "In these last months, the WikiLeaks organization has not been open any more. It lost its open-source promise."[27]

Instead of publishing the documents, Domscheit-Berg said that his proposed OpenLeaks process would send the leaked documents to various news entities or publishers.[28]

OpenLeaks was supposed to start public operations in January 2011. However, on 23 December 2012 Domscheit-Berg announced on the website that the organisation would not go ahead as previously intended and would now only focus on spreading information and expertise regarding how to set up and run leak websites rather than directly facilitating leaks themselves.

Book: Inside WikiLeaks


  1. For his use of "Daniel Schmitt," see "'The Only Option Left for Me Is an Orderly Departure'", Der Spiegel, 27 September 2010.
  2. Tweedie, Neil; Swaine, Jon (2010-12-11). "WikiLeaks Julian Assange: the most dangerous man in the world?". The Daily Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Hacker distanzieren sich von OpenLeaks", Der Spiegel, 13 August 2011.
  4. CCC revokes decision to expel Domscheit-Berg
  5. Stöcker, Christian. "A Dispatch Disaster in Six Acts", Der Spiegel, 1 September 2011.
  6. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/11/28/the_fp_top_100_global_thinkers?page=0,23#thinker24
  7. Hosenball, Mark (2010-12-15). "Julian Assange vs. the world". National Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "WikiLeaks Spokesman Quits: 'The Only Option Left for Me Is an Orderly Departure'". Der Spiegel. 27 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Brown, Craig (12 February 2011). "War of the WikiFreaks: Inside WikiLeaks by Daniel Domscheit-Berg". Daily Mail. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Unpublished Iraq War Logs Trigger Internal WikiLeaks Revolt|Threat Level. Wired.com. Retrieved on 2011-02-14.
  11. WikiRebels - The Documentary. Sveriges Television. 2010-12-12. Retrieved 2010-12-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "WikiLeaks said to be in disarray". United Press International. 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2010-12-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Collins, Hugh (2010-12-10). "Former Wikileaks Employee Daniel Domscheit-Berg to Publish Tell-All Book". AOL News. Retrieved 2010-12-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Scribe News: Scribe acquires rights to Inside WikiLeaks: my time at the world's most dangerous website". Scribe Publications. 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2010-12-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Boyes, Roger (2010-09-28). "WikiLeaks defector Daniel Domscheit-Berg reveals Julian Assange's siege mentality". The Australian. Retrieved 2010-12-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 "Top German Hacker Slams OpenLeaks Founder". SPIEGEL. 2011-08-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "spiegel" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "spiegel" defined multiple times with different content
  17. "OpenLeaks-Founder wants to destroy WikiLeaks files".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Retrieved on 2011-02-14.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Gosztola, Kevin (2011-08-21). "OpenLeaks Founder Destroys Cache of Unreleased WikiLeaks Documents".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "firedoglake" defined multiple times with different content
  19. "WikiLeaks Statement on Daniel Domscheit-Berg and OpenLeaks". 2011-08-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Moughty, Sarah (2011-08-22). "Ex-WikiLeaks Spokesman Destroyed Thousands of Unpublished Docs".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "We can confirm that the DDB ..." Twitter. 2011-08-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 22.0 22.1 Marsh, Heather (2011-08-21). "Former WikiLeaks spokesman destroyed unreleased files".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "We can confirm that the DDB". Twitter. 2011-08-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "We can confirm that the DDB ..." Twitter. 2011-08-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Renata, Avila (2011-08-15). "Open Letter".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "About OpenLeaks". OpenLeaks. Retrieved 28 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Piven, Ben (17 December 2010). "Copycat WikiLeaks sites make waves". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 19 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Greenberg, Andy, "WikiLeaks' Stepchildren", Forbes, 17 January 2011, p. 20.

Further reading

External links