Daniel Domscheit-Berg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Daniel Domscheit-Berg
Daniel Domscheit-Berg at 26C3, talking about WikiLeaks, 27 December 2009
Born1978 (age 45–46)
Other namesDaniel Schmitt
Known forFormer spokesperson for WikiLeaks, founder of OpenLeaks
SpouseAnke Domscheit-Berg

Daniel Domscheit-Berg (German: [ˈdaːniɛl ˌdɔmʃaɪtˈbɛʁk]; Berg; born 1978), previously known under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, is a German technology activist.[1] He is best known as the former spokesperson for WikiLeaks[1][2] and the author of Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website (2011).[3]

Domscheit-Berg began working with WikiLeaks after meeting Assange at the Chaos Computer Club's annual conference in 2007.[4] In August 2010, Domscheit-Berg was suspended from WikiLeaks by Assange after Domscheit-Berg challenged Assange's effectiveness as a leader.[5] In September 2010, Domscheit-Berg resigned from WikiLeaks, saying "WikiLeaks has a structural problem. I no longer want to take responsibility for it, and that's why I am leaving the project."[1]

On December 17, 2010, he announced plans to open a new website for anonymous online leaks called OpenLeaks.[6] 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. The launch was a failure as it was unable to get online. The CCC criticized Domscheit-Berg for exploiting the good name of the club to promote his OpenLeaks project and expelled him from the club.[7][8] This decision was revoked in February 2012.[9] In September 2011, several news organizations cited Domscheit-Berg's split from Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as one of a series of events that led to the release that month of all 251,287 United States diplomatic cables in the Cablegate affair.[10][11][12]

In 2011, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine in its FP Top 100 Global Thinkers.[13]


Domscheit-Berg began working with WikiLeaks after meeting Assange at the Chaos Computer Club's annual conference (24C3) in 2007.[4] During an online chat in August 2010, Julian Assange accused Domscheit-Berg of leaking information about the organization to Newsweek magazine. Assange suspended Domscheit-Berg from WikiLeaks during the chat after Domscheit-Berg wrote "you're not even fulfilling your role as a leader right now. A leader communicates and cultivates trust in himself. You are doing the exact opposite. You behave like some kind of emperor or slave trader."[5]

On 25 September 2010 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."[1][14] When Domscheit-Berg resigned, the architect of WikiLeaks' submission platform and four other staffers also broke with Assange.[5][15]

A book about his experience with and separation[16] 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").[17] An English translation was later released by Australian publisher Scribe Publications.[7][8][18][19] In 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.[20] He and the other staffers leaving the project wanted to be sure that duplicates would be confirmed deleted by a notary with an affidavit.[20][21] After leaving, WikiLeaks stated that Domscheit-Berg representing OpenLeaks, negotiated for eleven months over the unpublished documents and internal organisation communications with mediation between OpenLeaks and WikiLeaks conducted and terminated by organization spokesman and board member Andy Müller-Maguhn.[22] Domscheit-Berg told weekly Der Freitag that "I took no documents from WikiLeaks with me", leading to suspension of mediations.[7][8][22] Domscheit-Berg was eventually kicked out of Chaos Computer Club by Müller-Maguhn[23] due to tension over the files and for using the name of the Chaos Computer Club to promote OpenLeaks.[7][8][10]

WikiLeaks and other sources later alleged that Domscheit-Berg had destroyed over 3500 unpublished whistleblower communications with some communications containing hundreds of documents,[7][8][21][24] including the US government's No Fly List,[25] 5 GB of Bank of America leaks,[26] insider information from 20 neo-Nazi organizations[25][27] and evidence of torture and government abuse of a Latin American country.[28] Domscheit-Berg confirmed that he had destroyed the unpublished files including the No Fly list. He said that WikiLeaks' claims about the Bank of America files were "false and misleading" and that he hadn't taken them.[2][29][30] According to Domscheit-Berg, the files were lost because of an IT problem when one of WikiLeaks storage drives crashed and they lost it.[31]


On December 17, 2010, Domscheit-Berg announced the intention to start a site named "OpenLeaks"[6][32] 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."[6] Several other members of WikiLeaks left with Domscheit-Berg to join OpenLeaks, including a programmer known only as "The Architect" who had designed the WikiLeaks submission system.[31][33][34] OpenLeaks planned to launch a whistleblowing foundation in Germany and that would make decisions about how to operate.[35]

Instead of publishing the documents, Domscheit-Berg said that his proposed OpenLeaks process would send the leaked documents to various news entities or publishers without publishing them directly.[36][37] According to Domscheit-Berg, OpenLeaks wouldn't be able to read submissions. They would give the submissions to outlets chosen by the source, and then give others access after a certain amount of time or if the outlet refused the submission.[33] Insiders at OpenLeaks said that because of that, they planned to avoid "the kind of political pressure which WikiLeaks is under at this time."[38][37][39] Internal documents said it wanted to be a neutral intermediary ”without a political agenda except from the dissemination of information to the media, the public, non-profit organizations, trade- and union organizations and other participating groups.”[37][39] Analysts said OpenLeaks was a promising alternative to WikiLeaks and Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, OpenLeaks structure would make it more of an internet service provider than a publisher.[35]

OpenLeaks aimed to start public operations in January 2011 but postponed its launch more than once.[34] In August 2011, Domscheit-Berg announced a four day test launch and invited thousands of hackers to attack the OpenLeaks site and look for security flaws during the Chaos Communications Camp.[40][41] At the event, WikiLeaks associate Jacob Appelbaum brought up rumors that OpenLeaks was connected to German intelligence. Chaos Communication Camp board member, Andy Müller-Maguhn, said OpenLeaks did not provide source protection and lacked transparency.[42] When OpenLeaks attempted to launch a test site at the event, it was unable to get online.[41] At the time, four European newspapers and one non-profit group had signed up to receive the OpenLeaks documents.[40]

In September 2011, activist American author and security state critic Glenn Greenwald wrote that OpenLeaks had not produced any disclosures and was "cashing in on a vindictive, petty, personality-based vendetta against Assange and WikiLeaks ... and ... bolstering secrecy and destroying transparency, as Domscheit-Berg did when he permanently deleted thousands of files previously leaked to WikiLeaks, including documents relating to the Bank of America".[43]

On 23 December 2012 Domscheit-Berg announced on the website that the organisation would not go ahead as previously intended and would now focus on providing technology and expertise regarding how to receive documents from anonymous sources rather than directly facilitating leaks themselves.[44]

In a July 2013 interview, Domscheit-Berg said that work on OpenLeaks would continue, but "without much public involvement."[45]

Personal life[edit]

Domscheit-Berg is married to activist and politician Anke Domscheit-Berg.[46]

Makerspace in a disused rail station building[edit]

As of 2020, Domscheit-Berg is engaged with the makerspace Verstehbahnhof (translated: Station of Understanding). The makerspace has re-appropriated rooms of the Fürstenberg (Havel) station, which is still in use.[47]

Inside WikiLeaks[edit]

  • Daniel Domscheit-Berg (2011). Inside WikiLeaks: Meine Zeit bei der gefährlichsten Website der Welt (in German). Berlin: Econ Verlag. ISBN 978-3-430-20121-6.
  • Daniel Domscheit-Berg (2011). Inside WikiLeaks: my time with Julian Assange at the world's most dangerous website. Carlton North, City of Melbourne: Scribe Publications. ISBN 978-1-921844-05-8. Archived from the original on 19 February 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  • Daniel Domscheit-Berg (2011). Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website. New York City: Random House. ISBN 978-0-307-95191-5. Retrieved 10 February 2011.


  1. ^ a b c d "WikiLeaks Spokesman Quits: 'The Only Option Left for Me Is an Orderly Departure'". Der Spiegel. 27 September 2010. ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Ex-WikiLeaks Spokesman Destroyed Thousands of Unpublished Docs". FRONTLINE. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  3. ^ Tweedie, Neil; Swaine, Jon (11 December 2010). "WikiLeaks Julian Assange: the most dangerous man in the world?". The Daily Telegraph.
  4. ^ a b Hosenball, Mark (15 December 2010). "Julian Assange vs. the world". National Post.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b c Poulsen, Kim Zetter and Kevin. "Unpublished Iraq War Logs Trigger Internal WikiLeaks Revolt". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  6. ^ a b c Piven, Ben (17 December 2010). "Copycat WikiLeaks sites make waves". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Chaos Computer Club: Hacker distanzieren sich von OpenLeaks". Der Spiegel (in German). 13 August 2011. ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Streit mit Assange: Ex-Sprecher vernichtete WikiLeaks-Dateien". Der Spiegel (in German). 21 August 2011. ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  9. ^ "CCC | Ergebnis der außerordentlichen Mitgliederversammlung". Ccc.de. 5 February 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  10. ^ a b Stöcker, Christian (1 September 2011). "Leak at WikiLeaks: A Dispatch Disaster in Six Acts". Der Spiegel. ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  11. ^ Kulish, Robert Mackey, Jacob Harris, Ravi Somaiya and Nicholas (September 2011). "All Leaked U.S. Cables Were Made Available Online as WikiLeaks Splintered". The Lede. Retrieved 28 July 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (2 September 2011). "Facts and myths in the WikiLeaks/Guardian saga". Salon. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  13. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers | Foreign Policy". Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  14. ^ Unpublished Iraq War Logs Trigger Internal WikiLeaks Revolt|Threat Level. Wired.com. Retrieved 2011-02-14.
  15. ^ "Daniel Domscheit-Berg And WikiLeaks' Insecure Future". The Awl. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  16. ^ "WikiLeaks said to be in disarray". United Press International. 28 September 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  17. ^ Collins, Hugh (10 December 2010). "Former Wikileaks Employee Daniel Domscheit-Berg to Publish Tell-All Book". AOL News. Archived from the original on 13 December 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  18. ^ "Scribe News: Scribe acquires rights to Inside WikiLeaks: my time at the world's most dangerous website". Scribe Publications. 10 December 2010. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  19. ^ Boyes, Roger (28 September 2010). "WikiLeaks defector Daniel Domscheit-Berg reveals Julian Assange's siege mentality". The Australian. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  20. ^ a b online, heise. "OpenLeaks-Gründer wollen Wikileaks-Dateien löschen". heise online (in German). Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  21. ^ a b Gosztola, Kevin (21 August 2011). "OpenLeaks Founder Destroys Cache of Unreleased WikiLeaks Documents". Dissenter.firedoglake.com. Archived from the original on 2 December 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  22. ^ a b WikiLeaks (20 August 2011). "WikiLeaks Statement on Daniel Domscheit-Berg and OpenLeaks".
  23. ^ Laaff, Meike (6 February 2012). "CCC macht Entscheidung rückgängig: Domscheit-Berg zurück im Club". Die Tageszeitung: taz (in German). ISSN 0931-9085. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  24. ^ "We can confirm that the DDB ..." Twitter. 21 August 2011.
  25. ^ a b Marsh, Heather (21 August 2011). "Former WikiLeaks spokesman destroyed unreleased files". Wlcentral.org. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  26. ^ "We can confirm that the DDB". Twitter. 21 August 2011.
  27. ^ "We can confirm that the DDB ..." Twitter. 21 August 2011.
  28. ^ Renata, Avila (15 August 2011). "Open Letter". Nothingispermanent.blogspot.com.au. Archived from the original on 1 February 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  29. ^ Greenberg, Andy. "Ex-WikiLeaker Claims Defectors Took Control Of Leaks From Assange". Forbes. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  30. ^ "Ex-Wikileaks spokesman blasts Assange - The Local". 12 February 2011. Archived from the original on 12 February 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  31. ^ a b Perlroth, Nicole (27 October 2012). "One On One: Andy Greenberg, Author, "This Machine Kills Secrets"". New York Times. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  32. ^ "About OpenLeaks". OpenLeaks. Archived from the original on 30 January 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  33. ^ a b "Here Comes OpenLeaks: How It Won't Be WikiLeaks". The Awl. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  34. ^ a b "EXCLUSIVE - WikiLeaks: The Next Generation". Reuters. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  35. ^ a b Zetter, Kim. "WikiLeaks Contender 'Promising,' Analysts Say". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  36. ^ Greenberg, Andy. "WikiLeaks' Stepchildren". Forbes. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  37. ^ a b c ""A new WikiLeaks" revolts against Assange - DN.se". Archived from the original on 11 December 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  38. ^ Rosenbloom, Joseph. "Blowing the whistle on Assange". Boston.com. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  39. ^ a b "WikiLeaks people defect to Openleaks". NBC News. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  40. ^ a b Greenberg, Andy. "OpenLeaks Announces A Test Launch, Invites 3,000 Hackers To Attack It". Forbes. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  41. ^ a b Greenberg, Andy. "The WikiLeaks Spinoff That Wasn't: An Exclusive Excerpt From This Machine Kills Secrets". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  42. ^ "Zoff nach dem Sommercamp: Chaos Computer Club wirft OpenLeaks-Gründer raus". Der Spiegel (in German). 14 August 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2023.
  43. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (27 September 2011). "Facts and myths in the WikiLeaks/Guardian saga - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  44. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "OpenLeaks aims to provide a more transparent alternative to WikiLeaks | DW Learn German". DW Learn German. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  45. ^ online, heise. "Daniel Domscheit-Berg: Openleaks lebt noch". MIT Technology Review (in German). Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  46. ^ "Die neuen Abgeordneten im Bundestag" (in German). 15 August 2017. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  47. ^ "Verstehbahnhof: Digitales Lernen an Gleis 1". 2 September 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]