John Doe is the pseudonym used by the whistleblower in the 2016 Panama Papers leak, who turned over 11.5 million documents from the law firm Mossack Fonseca to the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. On May 5, 2016, John Doe published a statement The Revolution Will Be Digitized; Doe explained he made the files from Mossack Fonseca public to underline growing income inequality and financial corruption globally. The whistleblower has offered to help prosecutors build their cases, on condition of legal protection.
In 2014, a man contacted Bastian Obermayer, a reporter working for German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung with the message “Hello. My name is John Doe. Interested in data?” When Obermayer answered in the affirmative, Doe continued, saying, “My life is in danger. No meeting, ever. I want you to report on the material and to make these crimes public.” Doe then proceeded to transfer roughly 11.5 million documents from the records of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
John Doe issued a statement on May 5, 2016 explaining what motivated him to release the massive trove of files from inside Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
In this text, titled The Revolution Will Be Digitized, John Doe said growing global income inequality and corruption allegedly enabled by Mossack Fonseca motivated his actions. Doe also said the papers demonstrated the injustices perpetrated by the industry that creates offshore companies and blamed governments for allowing offshore havens to proliferate, saying he leaked the documents “simply because I understood enough about their contents to realize the scale of the injustices they described.” He added that he had never worked for any government or intelligence agency and expressed willingness to help prosecutors. After SZ verified that it was from the Panama Papers source, ICIJ posted the full written statement on its website.