The controversial WikiLeaks service has lost what some might consider a powerful ally after the site restricted access to leaked information behind a donation paywall. The hacker collective known as Anonymous called the paywall "wholly unethical" and has withdrawn its support.
WikiLeaks added a large element to their site on Wednesday that obscured the content and asked that visitors donate money or share the site on Twitter or Facebook. It would disappear after a set time limit, but could not be closed or skipped except by means most users would not be familiar with. Anonymous, in a document posted to their "AnonPaste" site, reports they immediately contacted WikiLeaks but the paywall was soon up all over the site.
Henceforth, their statement reads, Anonymous will no longer work in WikiLeaks' favor — something which has put several of their own members in prison, they said. They added that they will not attempt to hack or deface the site ("We do not attack media"), though they said they will be releasing a "detailed dossier" of WikiLeaks actions they deem unacceptable.
WikiLeaks, for its part, defended its actions via Twitter, saying "A tweet, share, wait or donate campaign is not a 'paywall.' " Julian Assange, the leader of the organization, posted last week on the WikiLeaks site to explain the group's need for donations in order to continue operations. WikiLeaks is involved in several suits regarding its publication of confidential documents, and the legal costs are substantial.
The paywall, or perhaps "sharewall," is still present on the site; you can see it by attempting to access any of the millions of documents WikiLeaks has posted.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.