Former members of the anti-secrecy organization are staging a virtual revolt against Julian Assange, launching a spinoff site called OpenLeaks.
"We felt WikiLeaks is developing in the wrong direction. There's too much personal entanglement," Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former top WikiLeaks member and one of the founders of OpenLeaks, told the BBC in an interview today.
He did not name any of the other defectors but offered a first look into the internal politics of one of online publishing's most controversial organizations, a group that appears to be splintering as it faces intense scrutiny for its release of secret diplomatic cables.
OpenLeaks, which launches Dec. 20, won't publish secret material itself but will pass along leaked information it obtains to news outlets. Domscheit-Berg said the goal is to create a more stable platform for sharing secret documents and to decentralize the process.
"We won't publish any documents ourselves. The whole field is diversified," Domscheit-Berg told Forbes.
Domscheit-Berg and Assange had worked together since 2007, but their relationship seemed to disintegrate in September, when Assange suspended Domscheit-Berg from the site after he publicly criticized Assange's leadership and criticized him in an online chat room.
"You behave like some kind of emperor or slave trader," Domscheit-Berg wrote of Assange, according to The Guardian.
Assange, the public face of WikiLeaks, has been featured on magazine covers around the world and has generated his own personal controversy as well, not only for his radical views about freedom of information but also for accusations levied against him in Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sex crime allegations.
Domscheit-Berg seemed to suggest that he and other former members of WikiLeaks tired of dealing with the fallout from Assange's high profile -- and, apparently, from his ego as well.
"It's not entirely clear anymore what is personality and what is organization there. There's also too much self-promotion for the organization and a lot of other things," Domscheit-Berg told the BBC.
Domscheit-Berg says he still supports Assange, he just disagrees with his tactics. But the friendly fire doesn't sound all that friendly.
"I think the biggest lesson that we have learned when in WikiLeaks is that power corrupts," he told the BBC.
Assange, who is fighting extradition to Sweden in a British court, hasn't yet responded to his former colleague's claims.