WikiLeaks` Assange paid 66,000 euros in 2010

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was paid 66,000 euros in 2010 as the whistleblower website grappled with ballooning costs with legal battles, clamp down in donations and decision to pay salaries to its select staffers.

Last Updated: Dec 24, 2010, 21:16 PM IST

Washington: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was paid 66,000 euros in 2010 as the whistleblower website grappled with ballooning costs with legal battles, clamp down in donations and decision to pay salaries to its select staffers.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Friday that new data from Germany-based Wau Holland Foundation that processes WikiLeaks` bills show the document-leaking website has sharply increased its spending.

A big factor in the leap is a recent decision to begin paying salaries to staff.

The primary beneficiary is Assange, the controversial founder and public face of WikiLeaks currently under house arrest in Britain for possible extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct.

The WikiLeaks has paid more than 100,000 euros in salaries for 2010, including about 66,000 euros to Assange, the WSJ quoted Wau Holland spokesman Hendrik Fulda as saying.

Six WikiLeaks staff members have filed invoices for compensation, including at least one invoice for just one month of work, Fulda said. Other former staff members are expected to file in the coming weeks, he said.

At the same time, Wau Holland Foundation says it has collected about 1 million euros ($1.3 million) in donations in 2010, as WikiLeaks exploded into public prominence thanks to its release of thousands of classified US documents.

The group got about half of its money from modest donations via its website, and the rest from "personal contacts", including wealthy donors who give tens of thousands of dollars, Assange said in August.

Last summer, WikiLeaks said it operated on about 150,000 euros a year.

Now the foundation says it has paid about 380,000 euros in WikiLeaks expenses, with some bills for the year still unprocessed. Some of that total is for hardware, internet access and travel, Fulda said.

Another mounting cost for WikiLeaks relates to legal work. Lawyers acting on behalf of WikiLeaks have billed it about 30,000 euros in services.

However, none of the funds collected by the Wau Holland Foundation are going to pay for legal expenses related to defence against possible criminal charges in Sweden, Fulda said.

WikiLeaks recently established the Julian Assange Defense Fund to collect donations for Assange`s legal battles, including his effort to resist extradition to Sweden, the WSJ said.

The website got hold of nearly 250,000 American diplomatic cables from US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who is now awaiting court martial at a military base. Manning faces 52 years in jail for illegally downloading and disseminating government documents.

IANS