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The still-unidentified whistleblower behind the release of the Panama Papers, 11.5 million documents detailing the practices of international tax evaders, spoke out on Friday to explain the motivation for the leak, praise NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and assert that the response of governments to the revelation has been insufficient.

“For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have,” The Guardian quoted the leaker as saying. “My viewpoint is entirely my own.”

From The Guardian:

The whistleblower said the leak of 11.5m documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca had triggered a “new, encouraging global debate”, thanks to the publication last month of stories by an international consortium of newspapers, including the Guardian.

“Shell companies are often associated with the crime of tax evasion. But the Panama Papers show beyond a shadow of a doubt that although shell companies are not illegal, by definition they are used to carry out a wide array of serious crimes,” the source wrote. “Income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time.”

“The prevailing media narrative thus far has focused on the scandal of what is allowed and legal in this system. What is allowed is indeed scandalous and must be changed.” …

The source was also critical of governments, in particular over their harsh treatment of whistleblowers. They appear to have been inspired at least in part by the example of Edward Snowden, who in 2013 revealed how the US and UK routinely monitor the communications of their own citizens. The Obama administration has charged Snowden with espionage and he was “stranded in Moscow”.

“For his revelations about the NSA, he [Snowden] deserves a hero’s welcome and a substantial prize, not banishment,” the source said. …

Despite some positive steps, the UK government needed to do more, the source said: “The UK still has a vital role to play in ending financial secrecy on various island territories, which are unquestionably the cornerstone of institutional corruption worldwide.”

The whistleblower was generally underwhelmed by official reaction to the leak. In New Zealand, the prime minister, John Key, had been “curiously quiet” about his country’s role in enabling “financial fraud” in the Cook Islands. In the US, tax evasion could not be fixed, the source argued, while politicians relied on the super-rich for campaign funding.

Read more.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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