The dramatic impact of the Panama Papers leak — involving a huge cache of documents that allegedly detail the secret offshore holdings of the world's elite — is still being measured. Its apparent revelations have compelled a prime minister to step aside and raised questions about the business affairs of politicians and the powerful in places as far flung as Pakistan and Malta.
It has also led to an amusing intervention on social media by perhaps the world's most well-known whistleblower. Edward Snowden, who leaked a vast tranche of National Security Agency documents before claiming asylum in Russia, rebuked British Prime Minister David Cameron for supposedly dodging criticism related to the Panama Papers.
As revealed by Britain's Guardian newspaper, the documents detailed an offshore fund set up by Cameron's late father, Ian, that had not paid British taxes since the 1980s. After news of its existence, a spokesman for the prime minister deemed it a "private matter." This amused Snowden, who is critical of Cameron's earlier efforts to beef up the surveillance powers of his government.
Oh, now he's interested in privacy. https://t.co/jfCSYgensb
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 4, 2016
Since being posted Monday, the tweet has been retweeted more than 26,000 times. Citing the ongoing upheaval in Iceland, Snowden pointed the finger once more at Cameron.
Resignation of Iceland's PM may explain why the UK PM is so insistent public has no right to know a PM's "private" finances. #PanamaPapers
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 5, 2016
The Panama Papers were leaked by an anonymous source to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which later shared the documents with other media outlets, which have embarked on their own investigations into the alleged disclosures.
Cameron's critics, including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, were quick to seize on the leak to heap pressure on the prime minister.
"The public has a right to know the truth," Corbyn told the Guardian. "We need to know the full extent of the links between Britain and the web of tax avoidance and evasion revealed by the Panama Papers at all levels."
A statement from Downing Street attempted to distance Cameron from any whiff of wrongdoing.
"To be clear, the prime minister, his wife and their children do not benefit from any offshore funds. The prime minister owns no shares," it said.