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27 January, 2018

The war on Whistleblowers and WikiLeaks

The PayPal-offshoot Becomes a Weapon in the War Against Whistleblowers and WikiLeaks. The Palantir document notes that most well-known journalistic professionals “with a liberal bent . . .if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals.”

WikiLeaks, the transparency organization known for publishing leaked documents that threaten the powerful, finds itself under pressure like never before, as does its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange. Now the fight to silence WikiLeaks is not only being waged by powerful government figures but also by the media, including outlets and organizations that have styled themselves as working to protect whistleblowers.

Pierre Omidyar – eBay billionaire and PayPal’s long-time owner – holds considerable sway over several journalists and organizations that once championed WikiLeaks but now work for the Omidyar-owned publication, The Intercept. Thanks to his deep ties to the U.S. government and his own long-standing efforts to undermine the organization, Omidyar is using his influence to bring renewed pressure to WikiLeaks as it continues to publish sensitive government information. However, Pierre Omidyar is not the only PayPal-linked billionaire with strong government connections and a dislike for WikiLeaks.

Part 5 - Turning Greenwald: exploiting professional preservation and advancement?

Also of interest is the Palantir document’s seemingly prophetic reference to Glenn Greenwald. Upon joining The Intercept in 2013, Greenwald relegated the rights over the Snowden cache to Omidyar — essentially privatizing them after a billionaire with government connections galore made him a very lucrative offer.

Greenwald has described Omidyar’s offer as “a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity [that] would be impossible for any journalist, let alone me, to decline.” This is a strong indication that Greenwald was presented with the choice of “professional preservation over cause” and, as Palantir predicted, chose to follow the former. It is possible that Omidyar’s influence over the FPF and The Intercept may have persuaded other FPF members with a “liberal bent” to do the same.

Furthermore, while Greenwald still voices support for WikiLeaks and Assange to some degree on Twitter — mainly regarding Assange’s arbitrary detention — he has failed to comment on the FPF vote, of which he was part, as well as the virulent attacks against WikiLeaks leveled by some of his fellow FPF directors and fellow Intercept writers. Though his silence may seem unsurprising to some, given his and the FPF’s connections to Omidyar, it has been suggested that his silence may have struck a nerve with Assange.

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