Panama Papers: Whistleblower Calls For Government Protection

Photograph: ICIJ

“When it takes a whistleblower to sound the alarm, it is cause for even greater concern. It signals that democracy’s checks and balances have all failed,” – John Doe, whistleblower behind the Panama Papers.

The whistleblower behind the biggest information leak in history, the Panama Papers, has called for whistleblowers to be given immunity from prosecution or government retribution.

The anonymous source, simply referred to as John Doe, says he is ready to make more documents available to interested governments but only as far as he is comfortable.

In a statement titled “The Revolution Will Be Digitized” and issued to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ, Doe says the only way for more people to report corruption is if they know they will not be hounded by government or law enforcement agencies.

“Legitimate whistleblowers who expose unquestionable wrongdoing, whether insiders or outsiders, deserve immunity from government retribution, full stop. Until governments codify legal protections for whistleblowers into law, enforcement agencies will simply have to depend on their own resources or on-going global media coverage for documents,” the source said, mentioning the likes of Edward Snowden, Bradley Birkenfeld and Antoine Deltour, who are all accused of leaking sensitive documents.

According to the statement, there is an income inequality affecting the world, which is caused by corruption, as revealed by the Panama Papers.

While saying he does not and has never worked for any government or intelligence agency, the whistleblower justified his decision to make the documents public. According to him, he understood the implication of the contents of the documents enough to know that they form part of the problems facing the world.

He said that while the media coverage has focused on the individuals in the documents and the attendant scandal, there is need to also look at the company that made everything possible, Mossack Fonseca.

This law firm, the whistlblower noted, is able to use its knowledge of the law to help the rich and powerful in the society bend it in their favour. He also called for their prosecution.

He blamed the judiciary for siding with the rich in perverting the course of justice.

“Those able to pay the most can always find a lawyer to serve their ends, whether that lawyer is at Mossack Fonseca or another firm of which we remain unaware. What about the rest of society?

“Hopelessly backward and inefficient courts have failed. Judges have too often acquiesced to the arguments of the rich, whose lawyers—and not just Mossack Fonseca—are well trained in honouring the letter of the law, while simultaneously doing everything in their power to desecrate its spirit. The media has failed,” he notes.

In spite of the role played by the media, particularly Süddeutsche Zeitung and the ICIJ, the source accused some sectionS of the media of refusing to report on the documents. This is in spite of being invited as part of the investigation.

“Many news networks are cartoonish parodies of their former selves, individual billionaires appear to have taken up newspaper ownership as a hobby, limiting coverage of serious matters concerning the wealthy, and serious investigative journalists lack funding.

“The impact is real: in addition to Süddeutsche Zeitung and ICIJ, and despite explicit claims to the contrary, several major media outlets did have editors review documents from the Panama Papers. They chose not to cover them. The sad truth is that among the most prominent and capable media organizations in the world there was not a single one interested in reporting on the story. Even Wikileaks didn’t answer its tip line repeatedly,” he claims.



    The problem associated with taxation and imbalance of power, the whistleblower says, has an historical origin that includes revolution.

    But while leaders in the past used the state coercive apparatus to silence people, these days leaders have devised a more potent and bloodless way of achieving the same result: curtailing access to information.

    However, as he notes, the situation is not all that hopeless, especially with technological advancement.

    “We live in a time of inexpensive, limitless digital storage and fast internet connections that transcend national boundaries. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots: from start to finish, inception to global media distribution, the next revolution will be digitized,” he concluded.


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