"He's already issued his first letters from prison, and letters from prison is money in the bank," said Young. "They tried for three years to get attention and couldn't get much traction. Now they've got it, they're not going to let go."
But former WikiLeaks members said the person being lost in all this is Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of providing secret U.S. documents to WikiLeaks.
Assange's critics want to know what happened to the $50,000 that was supposed to go to Pfc. Manning's defense fund.
A defense attorney has offered to defend Manning for a flat fee of $100,000. According to Manning supporters, WikiLeaks said it would supply half the total. Last week, a WikiLeaks spokesman said there had been a misunderstanding and that WikiLeaks would be providing $20,000. As of Saturday, a spokesperson for the Manning defense fund said it had not received any funds from WikiLeaks, but said that the Wau Holland Foundation, an organization that handles financial transactions for WikiLeaks, had said a check for $20,000 would be coming shortly.
Domscheit-Berg said he and others pressed for the money to be transferred "for quite a while," but that Assange would not comment on why it had not been transferred, other than to say "it was all taken care of." "That, to me," said Domscheit-Berg, "says that it's time to leave this organization."
Said Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland's parliament, "It was irresponsible in a sense for WikiLeaks to call the people to donate money for the Bradley defense. And not deliver."
Birgitta Jonsdottir was one of the early backers of WikiLeaks, and introduced a bill that would make Iceland a safe haven for whistleblowers.
She told ABC News that after working closely with Assange, she had become deeply disillusioned.
"Very many people have forgotten the fact that Bradley Manning has been sitting in jail for 200 days," said Jonsdottir. "And his defense fund is struggling to get together the money to pay for his lawyers."
At the same time, WikiLeaks is providing the money for Assange's defense fund.
He is facing charges of rape in Sweden, a case that he says is meant to silence both him and WikiLeaks. Jonsdottir said one has nothing to do with the other.
"And I don't think that is, is justifiable," And this is why I did suggest that he must step down."
Instead she and the others have quit WikiLeaks and are now working to set up their own, rival web site to be called OpenLeaks.
They plan to have OpenLeaks up and running later this week. It will focus, they said, more on disclosing corruption and secrets , less on making anyone famous.
Domscheit-Berg said he believed it was dangerous for an organization like WikiLeaks to become too popular, because it encouraged adulation from "fan boys," who don't think critically or ask hard question.
He and the others would prefer that OpenLeaks not publish information itself, but act as a go-between, providing information to other organizations, which can then bring their own expertise to bear and decide what to publish.
"You see, this whole topic is way too complex for one organization to handle all of the responsibilities," said Domscheit-Berg, "all of the accountability that comes with these decisions."