Who leaked the Panama Papers? It’s a question millions of people are asking as heads of state and celebrities alike scramble to explain offshore dealings revealed by the explosive leaks.
If the journalists are able to protect their source, we may never know who leaked the Panama Papers. After all, according to the German team at Süddeutsche Zeitung who first received them, the leaker was extremely worried about retribution for his actions. He would only speak to reporters under shrouded means and refused to ever meet with them face to face, reported USA Today.
“There are a couple of conditions. My life is in danger. We will only chat over encrypted files. No meetings, ever. The choice of stories is up to you.”
Despite the fear of repercussions, the leaker believed that the activities being carried out through Mossack Fonesca were grave enough to warrant the risk. He made the decision to expose the Panama Papers, he told German journalist Bastian Obermayer, because he wanted to bring the company’s dealings to an end.
“‘I want to make these crimes public.’ He said that they must be stopped. It’s rotten business they are doing.”
These brief snippets of the original conversation that led to the Panama Papers leak are all the public knows about the person who brought the data to light. Offshore business’ own Robin Hood has more or less evaporated and, if he wants to stay safe, will likely remain that way. Even Obermayer himself doesn’t know who he is.
“I don’t know the name of the person or the identity of the person. But I would say I know the person. For certain periods I talked to [this person] more than to my wife.”
Outside of who actually leaked the Panama Papers, there are some details that let us in on another question: How did that person manage to get access? Unfortunately, there’s also little to go off of on this end, but there is still one alleged letter from Mossack Fonesca to its clients that does seem to indicate that the company knows where the break in the system came from: their e-mails.
That’s still scant detail to understand exactly how the Panama Papers leak happened. Naked Security writes that there are still many other possibilities to be explored when it comes to nailing down the whistleblower’s path.
“The problem is that, so far, we just don’t know how the hackers did it. Given the scale of the breach, it certainly sounds as though there was more involved than just finding a password or tricking a user into opening a booby-trapped attachment. Presumably, the hackers needed to get in, find their way around, figure out what data was stored where, work out how to access it, and then find a way to collect and exfiltrate it.”
From the statements made by the team behind the exposition of the Panama Papers, it will difficult for such information to make its way to Mossack Fonesca. International Consortium of Journalists (ICIJ) director Gerard Ryle told Wired that they were taking every precaution to make the sure that the damage done by the leak only hits those who deserved it.
“We’re not WikiLeaks. We’re trying to show that journalism can be done responsibly.”
Do you think the public will ever find out who leaked the Panama Papers?
[Image via Mikko Lemola/Shuttershock]