Wikileaks has set up a new website, Free Snowden, to collect money to defend National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The site allows for donations by credit card, PayPal, bank transfer, WePay payment, and virtual currencies Bitcoin and Litecoin. It features background information and news stories about the former government contractor. It has raised $21,660 and 116 bitcoins (about $22,950 at today's market price) for the whistleblower's "legal defense and its associated public campaign."
Snowden is now living in temporary asylum in Russia after leaking an extensive trove of government documents to journalists. His asylum will expire in August 2014, which means his legal fight is far from over. He told reporters he had consulted with a team of international lawyers, but has now retained a Russian lawyer, Kremlin favorite Anatoly Kucherena. It was also reported that the American Civil Liberties Union was involved in Snowden's legal defense at one point.
The new legal defense fund claims to be the only one endorsed by WikiLeaks and Snowden himself. It's clearly affiliated with WikiLeaks, but Snowden's affiliation is harder to pin down. The new effort is being attributed to trustees of a UK group called the Journalistic Source Protection Defence Fund (JSPDF). The JSPDF is obtuse about its connection to WikiLeaks, but the Snowden fund and the Julian Assange Legal Defence Fund are both administered by the same UK-based accounting firm. The JSPDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Snowden supports WikiLeaks, but maybe not as much as it supports him
Snowden supports WikiLeaks, but hasn't said much about the organization publicly. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, by contrast, has made numerous statements about Snowden to the media and claims to have paid for the leaker's flight to Russia. "WikiLeaks has used his case to boost its profile," the New York Times wrote in June.
The JSPDF first started fundraising for Snowden in August using the crowdfunding platform FundRazr. That campaign is now embedded on the Free Snowden site and at wikileaks.org/freesnowden.
The newly formed organization says Snowden is its first recipient, but will not be its last. "We expect to be supporting more journalistic sources and whistleblowers in the future and we expect to grow as more journalistic sources are nominated as recipients," the site says.