Panama Papers: Who leaked the biggest haul of secret documents?

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New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) The Panama Papers leak, claimed by many as the “world’s biggest”, has created ripples across the world, upsetting the rich and mighty with accounts in tax havens. But there is confusion about who actually leaked the papers.

The leak turned out to be a Monday mayhem for around 214,000 hidden offshore companies after a group of global journalists, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), got hold of the papers of the practically unknown law firm Mossack Fonseca based in Panama.

So who leaked the ‘Panama Papers’ — a collection of over 2,600 GB of data comprising more than 11 million documents?

According to reports, over a year ago, an anonymous source contacted German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and submitted encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, detailing how the firm set up and sold anonymous offshore companies around the world.

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In the months that followed, the number of documents continued to grow far beyond the original leak.

Ultimately, Süddeutsche Zeitung acquired about 2.6 terabytes, or 2,600 GB, of data –making the leak the biggest that journalists had ever worked with.

The source, who contacted the German newspaper’s reporter, Bastian Oberway, via encrypted chat wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return, apart from a few security measures, the daily said on its website.

After getting their hands on the data, the Süddeutsche Zeitung decided to analyse the data in cooperation with the ICIJ as the consortium had already coordinated the research for past projects that the daily was also involved in.

In the past 12 months, around 400 journalists from more than 100 media organisations in over 80 countries have taken part in researching the documents. The team included journalists from the Guardian and the BBC in England, Le Monde in France, La Nación in Argentina and The Indian Express in India.

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In Germany, Suddeutsche Zeitung journalists cooperated with their colleagues from two public broadcasters, NDR and WDR. Journalists from the Swiss Sonntagszeitung and the Austrian weekly Falter have also worked on the project, as have their colleagues at ORF, Austria’s national public broadcaster.

The international team initially met in Washington, Munich, Lillehammer and London to map out the research process.

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