- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2016

WikiLeaks’ publication of stolen Democratic National Committee correspondence has incited internet tycoon Kim Dotcom to promise he’ll help bankroll the anti-secrecy website through 2017.

“I pledge to raise $1m for Wikileaks within a year,” Mr. Dotcom, the German-born founder of now-defunct file-sharing service Megaupload, said in a tweet Wednesday.

“Help Julian Assange and his team. They do an excellent job,” he wrote to his nearly half-million Twitter followers.

In addition to promising to help provide a significant sum of cash for WikiLeaks, Mr. Dotcom’s tweet is especially meaningful given the similarities between himself and Mr. Assange, the Australian publisher who launched the secret-spilling website nearly a decade ago. Both men are foreign-born hackers currently at the center of separate long-standing U.S. Department of Justice probes as a result of running websites that have drawn ire from American prosecutors.

Mr. Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz, and his Megaupload colleagues were indicted by the Justice Department in 2012 on charges ranging from racketeering to copyright infringement conspiracy related to the website’s operations. Prosecutors said Megaupload cost the entertainment industry roughly $500 million by facilitating illegal file-sharing and have been pressed for the administrators’ extradition for the last four years.

Mr. Assange, meanwhile, has long attested he is the target of a sealed federal indictment related to WikiLeaks and its past disclosures, including hundreds of thousands of State Department and Pentagon documents supplied by Pvt. Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for her role with the website.

Mr. Dotcom and Mr. Assange have both been pursued by the same federal prosecutor in Alexandria, Virginia, the WikiLeaks founder said previously.  

And although the Justice Department has failed so far to formally announce any charges against Mr. Assange, federal officials have undoubtedly set its sights on WikiLeaks since soon after the soldier’s disclosures.

PayPal said in 2010 that it had stopped processing payments to WikiLeaks upon the urging of the State Department, and a Justice Department representative confirmed this past May that the website remains the subject of an FBI investigation six years after it started leaking classified documents.

While Mr. Dotcom has been adamant about both his disdain for the Obama administration and his support for WikiLeaks since at 2012, the German hacker-turned-internet tycoon has rehashed either topic through his Twitter account in the wake of Mr. Assange’s decision last week to publish leaked DNC documents.

“You’re a corrupt serial liar. You can’t honor an oath of office for a day,” Mr. Dotcom said Monday in a tweet directed to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“The @Wikileaks nuke to end @HillaryClinton is yet to come. @realDonaldTrump might fall in love with Internet freedom & transparency,” reads another one of Mr. Dotcom’s recent tweets.

Previously, Mr. Dotcom said he believed Megaupload was targeted by the Justice Department in part because his website donated more than $220,000 to WikiLeaks in 2012 after the website published video footage of an U.S. Army helicopter firing at journalists.

He did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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