WikiLeaks Donations Topped $1.9 Million in 2010

A German nonprofit that processes most of the donations submitted to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks has finally made good on a nearly year-old promise to release a report detailing how those donations are spent – though the report remains silent on how much money was paid to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The Berlin-based Wau Holland Foundation, which accepted donations for WikiLeaks via PayPal and bank account transfers, quietly released the report on its website (.pdf) April 16.

According to the report, the foundation received about $1.9 million on behalf of WikiLeaks in 2010. More than half of that amount, or $700,000, came in November and December, after WikiLeaks and several newspapers began publishing a trove of U.S. diplomatic cables allegedly received from Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning.

A $15,100 contribution WikiLeaks made to Manning’s defense in January of this year is not reflected in the report, which only covers expenses and contributions through December of 2010.

Of the total money received, the Wau Holland Foundation distributed about $585,000 to WikiLeaks to cover expenses. A little more than $200,000 of this went to WikiLeaks for the cost of processing submissions, such as “reviewing and editing incoming material, video authoring, analyzing and arranging a large number of documents … anonymisation and much more.” The sum also includes the “involvement of external experts like journalists.”

In 2010, WikiLeaks sent two Swedish journalists to Iraq to locate and interview two children who were injured in an Army Apache attack, a battle that featured in the now-famous Iraq “Collateral Murder” video that WikiLeaks published in April of last year.

According to the Wau Holland report, an additional $152,000 was paid to “a few heads of project and activists,” for services invoiced. This appears to reference salaries paid to staffers, though the report doesn’t specify how that expense differs from the expenses attributed to processing submissions.

The report also doesn’t say how much Assange personally received from the funds, though The Wall Street Journal reported last year that he received about $88,000 in back pay for work performed in 2010.

Wau Holland paid about $87,000 to cover WikiLeaks’ infrastructure expenses, such as servers and other hardware; another $91,000 went for travel costs to conferences, meetings and lectures. This money covered airfare, usually economy-class tickets, but generally not hotel stays “because activists often are lodged in private,” according to the report. It’s commonly known that WikiLeaks founder Assange relies on the kindness of supporters for free hospitality in countries where he travels.

Additionally, Wau Holland paid out $48,000 in legal fees. This was defined as costs for project campaigns, “not for individual-related legal advice or legal representation in court proceedings.” The latter likely refers to the personal legal expenses that have been racked up over the last year by Assange, who is facing sex-crimes allegations in Sweden and has been fighting an extradition battle in London.

About $930,000 of the 2010 donations Wau Holland received came through a PayPal account, while the remainder came through bank transfers. PayPal closed the account in December, though donations to WikiLeaks via bank account transfers have continued.

Of all the money raised, the largest amount, 35 percent, came from the United States, while 14 percent came from Germany and 12 percent from Britain. About 6 percent came from Australia and Canada, followed by smaller amounts from other countries.

Wau Holland began accepting donations on WikiLeaks’ behalf in October 2009 and had received only about $6,000 in donations before WikiLeaks’ website went down late December that year. Donations began pouring in once people saw in January that the site needed help, foundation vice president Hendrik Fulda told Threat Level previously. WikiLeaks’ plea for donations indicated the site needed to raise at least $200,000 to cover a year’s worth of operating expenses, increased to at least $600,000 if its volunteers were to be paid.

The foundation began facing pressure last year from the public and from German authorities to provide an accounting of how donations were being spent. The foundation missed its own deadlines for publishing the report repeatedly over the last eight months.

Photo: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arriving at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London for his extradition hearing, Feb. 7, 2011. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

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