John Doe (Panama Papers' whistleblower)

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.[1][2][3] On May 5, 2016, John Doe published a statement The Revolution Will Be Digitised; 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.[4]

Initial contact with Süddeutsche Zeitung

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.[5]

The Revolution Will Be Digitized

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.[6]

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 realise 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.[7][8]


  1. Levy, Megan (April 6, 2016). "'Interested in data?': Panama Papers leak began with message from 'John Doe'". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  2. International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; Elise Worthington (April 5, 2016). "Panama Papers: Why 'John Doe' risked their life for the Mossack Fonseca leak". ABC News. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  3. Hines, Nicho (April 4, 2016). "Panama Papers Leaker: 'I Want to Make These Crimes Public'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  4. "Panama Papers Source Offers to Aid Inquiries if Exempt From Punishment". NYT. May 6, 2016. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  5. Farhi, Paul (April 7, 2016). "'Hello. This is John Doe': The mysterious message that launched the Panama Papers". Daily Mail. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  6. Franco, Arnulfo (May 6, 2016). "John Doe, mysterious whistleblower behind Panama Papers, finally speaks". The Miami Herald. Associated Press. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  7. "Panama Papers: Source breaks silence on Mossack Fonseca leaks". 6 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  8. "Panama Papers Source Offers Documents To Governments, Hints At More To Come". ICIJ. May 6, 2016. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
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