Top WikiLeaks Volunteer Was FBI Informant

Sigurdur "Siggy" Thordarson sold out Assange for $5K

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 27, 2013 2:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – One of Julian Assange's key volunteers doubled as an informant for the FBI, he tells Wired. In August 2011, Sigurdur "Siggi" Thordarson, 18, sent an email to the US embassy in Iceland promising "intel"; the next day, he walked into the embassy building, flashed Assange's passport, and offered to inform on WikiLeaks, an offer the Bureau quickly accepted. The Bureau didn't initially offer to pay him, but eventually gave him $5,000 to cover time he said he'd missed from work to meet with agents.

Thordarson was in charge of the WikiLeaks chat room, making him the first person new volunteers encountered. Among other information, he turned over thousands of pages of chat logs to the FBI. Perhaps his most notable act for WikiLeaks was to approach the Lulzsec hacking group and ask them to hack the Icelandic government on WikiLeaks' behalf—a move that failed because the FBI had already flipped Lulzsec's leader. It was after that incident that he turned informant. More intriguing details from the report:

  • When asked why he betrayed WikiLeaks, Thordarson said, "I didn't want to participate in having Anonymous and Lulzsec hack for WikiLeaks," an answer that makes little sense because Thordarson's the only one who contacted them. "The second reason," he admits, "was the adventure."
  • Other WikiLeaks staffers hated Thordarson—"I warned Julian from day one, there's something not right about this guy," says one Icelandic lawmaker who has worked with WikiLeaks.
  • But Assange stuck by Thordarson—even after he was implicated in a scandal in which a "spy computer" was found in a parliament building. "I will defend you against all accusations," Assange promised. "But I expect total loyalty."
  • Thordarson showed him a tiny smidgen of loyalty in return; when the FBI asked if he'd wear a listening device disguised as a watch and try to get Assange to say something incriminating, he refused. "I like Assange, even considered him a friend."
  • Thordarson is, in the words of Wired reporter Kevin Poulsen, "prone to lying," admitting he even lied to Poulsen. WikiLeaks eventually fired him for selling WikiLeaks T-shirts for his own personal benefit. He's currently facing unrelated criminal charges in Iceland for financial and tax crimes.
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This film publicity image released by Focus World shows Julian Assange in a scene from the documentary, "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks."   (AP Photo/Focus World)
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Thordarson shot this video to prove to Lulzsec that he was a WikiLeaks official.   (YouTube)

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It’s a sign that the FBI views WikiLeaks as a suspected criminal organization rather than a news organization. - Stephen Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy

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