German criticises WikiLeaks chief as authoritarian

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WikiLeaks' representative in Germany has quit the organisation, criticising the founder of the whistleblower website as being authoritarian, in an interview with Der Spiegel published Monday.

"Julian Assange reacted to the smallest criticism by accusing me of being disobedient and disloyal towards the project," Daniel Schmitt was quoted as saying in an interview posted on the German weekly's website.

"Four weeks ago he suspended me in acting as the judge, jury and executioner at the same time," added Schmitt, 32, who Der Spiegel described as the second most well-known person in the organisation.

He said their dispute centred on technical issues stemming from the website's growth that have gone unaddressed.

"We've grown at a crazy pace these past months and we have an incredible need to become more professional and transparent in all areas," said Schmitt.

He said no one in WikiLeaks's inner circle approved of his suspension, but that apparently doesn't matter.

"WikiLeaks has a structural problem. I don't want to take responsibility for it any longer, that's why I've quit the project.

Created in 2006, WikiLeaks first gained widespread notoriety with the release of a graphic video of a US military Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad in 2007 that killed two Reuters employees and a number of other people.

In July it published nearly 77,000 classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan on July 23, and intends to publish another 15,000, provoking the wrath of the Pentagon.

In September rape allegations were made in Sweden against Assange, 39, who has called them part of a "smear campaign" aimed at discrediting WikiLeaks.

© 2010 AFP

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