Private Bank of America (BoA) files obtained by Wikileaks may have been deleted by a former spokesman of the whistleblower website, it has emerged.
Wikileaks had planned to release a raft of data on the bank, which subsequently hired a new chief security officer earlier this year. The apparent five gigabytes worth of information was said to have included files from one executive's hard drive, as well as the entire US no-fly list.
But Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who left Wikileaks last year after he expressed public disagreement with the way the organisation was run, told Reuters he had deleted approximately 3,000 submissions the site had received about the bank.
Wikileaks confirmed on its Twitter feed that the data Domscheit-Berg claimed to have destroyed "included five gigabytes from the Bank of America". The data is also understood to include the US no-fly list, US government plans for intercepting internet traffic and leaks from far right organisations.
Domscheit-Berg, who has founded OpenLeaks as a rival to Wikileaks, said the deletion was "in the interest of the security of sources".
Around a tenth of the Bank of America data received by Wikileaks was useful documentation, he said, with much of the rest being "junk".
Asked what data Wikileaks might have, a Bank of America spokesperson told Reuters: "We don't know what they claim to have had, and we have no comment on what they allegedly may have destroyed."
Earlier this month, the private internal email archive of Bank of America subsidiary Countrywide was made public in court in a $10.5 billion (£6.4 billion) fraud lawsuit filed by insurer AIG. Emails sent by executives at BoA-owned Countrywide in 2005 and 2006 warned of a forthcoming "catastrophe" and questioned the unit's risk assessment and business practices.