WikiLeaks, Balkanleaks and Publeaks are all examples of ‘leaking sites’ – sites that exist to actively support whistle-blowing and leaks about various topics – that may or may not constitute the future of information. Balkanleaks is an anonymous leaking site run by a pair of Bulgarian journalists. It was launched in 2010, following the example of the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks, and has the goal of promoting transparency and fighting organized crime and political corruption in the Balkan states. The project has made a lot of headlines in Bulgaria, and in some western media, Balkanleaks has been reported as one of the most successful projects following the WikiLeaks policy of anonymous submission.
The pressing question in regards to the purpose of Balkanleaks is:
How can Balkanleaks contribute to democracy in the Balkan states?
With this central question in mind, I interviewed Atanas Tchobanov, a Bulgarian free-lance journalist, blogger, and free-speech activist who currently lives in Paris. He is involved in the Balkanleaks project for investigative journalism. According to Atanas Tchobanov, providing people a platform to leak information that is of public interest, contributes enormously to transparency. In return, transparency improves the awareness of people about misbehavior and misuse of power by the government. Additionally, it contributes to the establishment of accountability and the rule of law.
The criminals are those who are doing the wrong, not the people who are exposing the wrong
According to Mr. Tchobanov Balkanleaks has already had major success stories. But creating success stories is only one side of the coin. Whistleblowing also triggers scandals. He pointed out that despite the fact that the Balkanleaks has a limited geographical scope, the outrage is more frequently scandalous than in the West. Due to the fact that people in the Balkan states are so used to political misconduct, they are not as outraged as in the West by the comparably enormous number of scandals in the Balkans. Mr.Tchobanov argues that the reason for this lies within the fact that the Balkan states only have limited experience in democracy and that the public tolerance of misconduct is too high. Can this lack of experience be compensated or diminished by having a leaking platform? And even if, does perfect information give us a perfect society?
Is a perfect society a utopia?
According to Mr. Tchobanov, a perfect society is a utopia. A perfect society will never exist – with or without perfect information. If anything, said Mr. Tchobanov, “perfect information gives us more trouble to find the right information”. Because of that he stressed the importance of creating awareness and transparency. For example, by being aware of the existence of Balkanleaks, the government is forced to act more responsibly because it knows that the leak of any misconduct can become enormously problematic. Atanas Tchobanov concluded the interview with a statements that says it all:
We need laws to protect whistleblowers not only to hide them by using anonymous platforms