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WikiLeaks paywall sparks furious backlash from followers who feel betrayed

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wikileaksWIKILEAKS has sparked a furious backlash after moving millions of documents behind a psuedo paywall.

The self-appointed champion of open information is now asking users to pay - prompting a rush of sinister Tweets and comments from members of former underground web ally and hacking group Anonymous.

In fact the pay request can be circumvented by users who 'share' the relevant page or pages on Twitter or Facebook – but this has not prevented a vicious backlash.

Clicking on many of the site’s documents WikiLeaks visitors are taken to a page with a video that pillories Barack Obama and ends with WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange asking for donations.

To access documents users can donate, share the video on Facebook or tweet it while the full screen overlay cannot be closed unless a donation is made or something is shared.

Well-known Anonymous Twitter accounts were quick to wade in with damning comments.

@YourAnonNews called for the wall to come down and then followed up with the message: "This, dear friends will lose you all allies you still had. @wikileaks, please die in a fire, kthxbai."

@AnonymousIRC went further by dropping a long letter to Pastebin, explaining that it has had enough of WikiLeaks’ founder, concluding that WikiLeaks has lost its way and is consumed by Assange’s legal troubles and ego instead of its mission of transparency.

Anonymous rallied behind WikiLeaks in December 2010, targeting Visa, MasterCard and PayPal for blocking off donations to Assange's site.

Fourteen suspects connected to Anonymous were charged last year for allegedly participating in denial-of-service attacks against online payment service provider PayPal.

Assange, who has taken refuge at the Ecuador embassy in London, did not immediately respond for comment. But Wikileaks wrote on Twitter that “A tweet, share, wait or donate campaign is not a ‘paywall.’”

Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador in August amid claims that, if he was extradited to Sweden to face an investigation for sex crimes, he would be further extradited to the United States where he would face political persecution and military court trial for publishing documents that have angered the U.S. government. He remains holed up in the London embassy on fears he would be arrested if he fled to Ecuador.

In a message posted on Pastebin, @AnonymousIRC blasted Assange:

…Wikileaks is not — or should not be — about Julian Assange alone. The idea behind Wikileaks was to provide the public with information that would otherwise being kept secret by industries and governments. Information we strongly believe the public has a right to know. But this has been pushed more and more into the background, instead we only hear about Julian Assange, like he had dinner last night with Lady Gaga. That’s great for him but not much of our interest. We are more interested in transparent governments and bringing out documents and information they want to hide from the public.

The message added:

“The conclusion for us is that we cannot support anymore what Wikileaks has become – the One Man Julian Assange show. But we also want to make clear that we still support the original idea behind Wikileaks: Freedom of information and transparent governments. Sadly we realize that Wikileaks does not stand for this idea anymore.

The overlay on WikiLeaks can be circumvented by disabling JavaScript, and many Anonymous docs can be found on mirror sites around the net that lack the paywall.

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