Panama Papers source breaks silence but remains anonymous

RODRIGO ARANGUA / AFP | View of buildings in Panama City, home of law firm Lassack Fonseca, on April 4, 2016

Suddeutsche Zeitung said on Friday that the source of millions of documents leaked to the German newspaper from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca had sent them a manifesto, saying his motivation was the “scale of injustices” the papers revealed.


The source had never before publicly stated why he leaked the documents, now known as the Panama Papers, said Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), one of Germany’s most reputable newspapers.

In an 1,800 word manifesto published on the SZ website on Friday, the source, calling himself “John Doe”, praised others who have leaked secret and sensitive documents, such as Edward Snowden, who revealed details of the US government’s mass surveillance programme.

“For his revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA), he deserves a hero’s welcome and a substantial prize, not banishment,” the source wrote.

On Friday, Sueddeutsche Zeitung introduced the manifesto by saying: “Now ‘John Doe’, the anonymous source, has sent the SZ a manifesto, which can be read as an explanation of his actions – and as a call to action.”

The source welcomed the fact that the leak had triggered a debate on “wrongdoing by the elite” but said not enough action had been taken.

He added that the “inexpensive, limitless digital storage and fast internet connections” should help digitise the revolution against income inequality.

The source’s identity and gender is not known.

Leaked papers to be published

But while “John Doe” called for more transparency, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal urged the opposite.

Mossack Fonseca said Friday it has issued a cease-and-desist letter to try to block the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) from publishing online a trove of documents plundered from the firm’s computer servers. The ICIJ has announced it will next Monday put online many – but not all – of the 11.5 million documents it received from an anonymous source.

Mossack Fonseca says it committed no crimes, and states that the data were illegally obtained through a hack perpetrated using foreign servers

The law firm based in Panama, one of whose founders is a friend and former adviser to the country's president, said it was in favor of freedom of the press.

"But we consider that practices like the one taken by ICIJ do not align with the right to communicate the truth" while taking into account "the rights of all other parties involved".

Not a spy

The source for the Panama Papers, who contacted the paper a year ago with an offer of encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, denied being a spy but said he had recognised the “scale of injustices” described in their contents.

“For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have,” he said.

He also said he would be willing to co-operate with law enforcement agencies.

He called on the European Commission, Britain, the United States and other nations to take steps to protect people who reveal private information about such sensitive issues rather than punishing them.

“Legitimate whistleblowers who expose unquestionable wrongdoing, whether insiders or outsiders, deserve immunity from government retribution, full stop,” he said.

The documents known as the Panama Papers cover a period over almost 40 years, from 1977 until last December, and purport to show that some companies domiciled in tax havens were being used for suspected money laundering, arms and drug deals and tax evasion.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung spent more than a year, along with other media outlets and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, analysing the huge cache of documents.

The source was critical of the media as well as financial institutions, saying he had offered the documents to several major media outlets that had chosen not to cover them.

“The collective impact of these failures has been a complete erosion of ethical standards, ultimately leading to a novel system we still call Capitalism, but which is tantamount to economic slavery.”


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