A WikiLeaks insider has challenged claims that co-founder Julian Assange is at threat of being booted due to his well-publicised rape charges in Sweden.
As the secretive website prepares to release a second tranche of confidential US intelligence files about the war in Afghanistan, an internal struggle appears to have erupted over the position of Assange, who is both spokesman and editor-in-chief.
Contrary to claims over the past few days, however, the well-placed insider said Assange is not at threat of being kicked out of WikiLeaks.
The person, who requested anonymity, contacted this website to deny recent suggestions that members were trying to kick Assange out of the organisation.
‘‘There’s no discussion of a founder getting chopped,’’ they said.
No-one wanted Assange to step down from his role as editor-in-chief of Wikileaks they said, though ‘‘a few people have have floated the idea of him stepping down as the media spokesperson.’’
Another WikLeaks member, Icelandic parliamentarian, Birgitta Jonsdottir, publicly called for Assange to step down as spokesman several days ago.
‘‘I have strongly urged him to focus on the legalities that he’s dealing with and let some other people carry the torch,” Ms Jonsdottir told US website, The Daily Beast.
Assange has been the focus of an international storm of controversy since WikiLeaks released a massive file of classified US war documents, with critics saying the release has endangered the lives of Coalition soldiers and their Afghan allies.
Then, in mid August, Assange was charged with rape following sexual encounters with two Swedish women.
Assange declared the charges ‘‘baseless and disturbing’’ and said they were part of a ‘‘smear campaign’’ by WikiLeaks detractors.
The rape charges were withdrawn several days later, but then reinstated.
Assange had been looking at changes in the organisation before he was charged with rape, the insider said.
‘‘Before the Swedish allegations Julian had been looking at possible new structures and roles for the not-for-profit which he considered might be necessary simply due to WikiLeaks phenomenal growth,’’ they said.
‘‘Anyone who has ever run a not-for-profit or a company knows that growth, while good, can be difficult.
‘‘Especially when you are the pioneer in a new field like WikiLeaks. There is no road map.
‘‘Insiders know that Julian is committed to WikiLeaks longterm success in bringing transparency journalism to the world – WikiLeaks volunteers are committed to Julian as editor-in-chief.’’
The insider described transparency journalism – a phrase not used by the organisation until today – as ‘‘journalism that tells a true story and then backs it up by publishing source documents that also provide the truth.’’