News leak publishing organization
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WikiLeaks () is an international non-profit organisation that publishes news leaks and classified media provided by anonymous sources. Its website, initiated in 2006 in Iceland by the organisation Sunshine Press, stated in 2015 that it had released online 10 million documents in its first 10 years.Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its founder and director. Since September 2018, Kristinn Hrafnsson has served as its editor-in-chief.
The group has released a number of prominent document caches. Early releases included documentation of equipment expenditures and holdings in the Afghanistan war, a report about a corruption investigation in Kenya, and an operating procedures manual for the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In April 2010, WikiLeaks released the Collateral Murder footage from the 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrike in which Iraqi Reuters journalists were among several civilians killed. Other releases in 2010 included the Afghan War Diary and the "Iraq War Logs". The latter release allowed the mapping of 109,032 deaths in "significant" attacks by insurgents in Iraq that had been reported to Multi-National Force – Iraq, including about 15,000 that had not been previously published. In 2010, WikiLeaks also released the US State Department diplomatic "cables", classified cables that had been sent to the US State Department. In April 2011, WikiLeaks began publishing 779 secret files relating to prisoners detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In 2012, WikiLeaks released the "Syria Files," over two million emails sent by Syrian politicians, corporations and government ministries. In 2015, WikiLeaks published Saudi Arabian diplomatic cables, documents detailing spying by the U.S. National Security Agency on successive French presidents, and the intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial international trade agreement which had been negotiated in secret.
During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, WikiLeaks released emails and other documents from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, showing that the party's national committee favoured Clinton over her rival Bernie Sanders in the primaries. These releases caused significant harm to the Clinton campaign, and have been attributed as a potential contributing factor to her loss in the general election against Donald Trump. The U.S. intelligence community expressed "high confidence" that the leaked emails had been hacked by Russia and supplied to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks said that the source of the documents was not Russia or any other state. During the campaign, WikiLeaks promoted conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.
In 2016, WikiLeaks released nearly 300,000 emails it described as coming from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, later found to be taken from public mailing archives, and over 50,000 emails from the Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. In 2017, WikiLeaks published internal CIA documents describing tools used by the agency to hack devices including mobile phones and routers.
WikiLeaks has drawn criticism for its absence of whistleblowing on or criticism of Russia, and for criticising the Panama Papers' exposé of businesses and individuals with offshore bank accounts. The organisation has additionally been criticised for inadequately curating its content and violating the personal privacy of individuals. WikiLeaks has, for instance, revealed Social Security numbers, medical information, credit card numbers and details of suicide attempts.
Staff, name and founding
The inspiration for Wikileaks was Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Assange built Wikileaks to shorten the time between a leak and its coverage by the media. Wikileaks was initially established in Australia but its servers were soon moved to Sweden and other countries that provided legal protection for the media.
The wikileaks.org domain name was registered on 4 October 2006. The website was established and published its first document in December 2006. WikiLeaks is usually represented in public by Julian Assange, who has been described as "the heart and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organiser, financier, and all the rest".Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Sarah Harrison, Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell are other publicly known associates of Assange who have been involved in the project. Harrison is also a member of Sunshine Press Productions along with Assange and Ingi Ragnar Ingason.Gavin MacFadyen was acknowledged by Assange as a ″beloved director of WikiLeaks″ shortly after his death in 2016.
WikiLeaks was originally established with a "wiki" communal publication method, which was terminated by May 2010. Original volunteers and founders were once described as a mixture of Asian dissidents, journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the United States, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. As of June 2009[update], the website had more than 1,200 registered volunteers.
Despite some popular confusion, related to the fact both sites use the "wiki" name and website design template, WikiLeaks and Wikipedia are not affiliated.Wikia, a for-profit corporation affiliated loosely with the Wikimedia Foundation, purchased several WikiLeaks-related domain names as a "protective brand measure" in 2007.
On 26 September 2018, it was announced that Julian Assange had appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson as editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks while the organisation's statement said Assange was remaining as its publisher. His access to the internet was cut off by Ecuador in March 2018 after he tweeted that Britain was about to conduct a propaganda war against Russia relating to the Poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Ecuador said he had broken a commitment "not to issue messages that might interfere with other states" and Assange said he was "exercising his right to free speech".
According to the WikiLeaks website, its goal is "to bring important news and information to the public ... One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth." Another of the organisation's goals is to ensure that journalists and whistleblowers are not prosecuted for emailing sensitive or classified documents. The online "drop box" is described by the WikiLeaks website as "an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to [WikiLeaks] journalists".
In a 2013 resolution, the International Federation of Journalists, a trade union of journalists, called WikiLeaks a "new breed of media organisation" that "offers important opportunities for media organisations".Harvard professor Yochai Benkler praised WikiLeaks as a new form of journalistic enterprise, testifying at the court-martial of Chelsea Manning (then Bradley Manning) that "WikiLeaks did serve a particular journalistic function," and that the "range of the journalist's privilege" is "a hard line to draw". Others do not consider WikiLeaks to be journalistic in nature. Media ethicist Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies wrote in 2011: "WikiLeaks might grow into a journalist endeavor. But it's not there yet."Bill Keller of The New York Times considers WikiLeaks to be a "complicated source" rather than a journalistic partner. Prominent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams writes that WikiLeaks is not a journalistic group, but instead "an organization of political activists; ... a source for journalists; and ... a conduit of leaked information to the press and the public". In support of his opinion, he said Assange's statements that WikiLeaks reads only a small fraction of information[clarification needed] before deciding to publish it, Abrams writes: "No journalistic entity I have ever heard of—none—simply releases to the world an elephantine amount of material it has not read."
According to a January 2010 interview, the WikiLeaks team then consisted of five people working full-time and about 800 people who worked occasionally, none of whom were compensated. WikiLeaks does not have any official headquarters. In November 2010 the WikiLeaks-endorsed news and activism site WikiLeaks Central was initiated and was administrated by editor Heather Marsh who oversaw over 70 writers and volunteers. She resigned on 8 March 2012.
WikiLeaks describes itself as "an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking". The website is available on multiple servers, different domain names and has an official Darkweb version (available on the Tor Network) as a result of a number of denial-of-service attacks and its elimination from different Domain Name System (DNS) providers.
Until August 2010, WikiLeaks was hosted by PRQ, a company based in Sweden providing "highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services". PRQ was reported by The Register website to have "almost no information about its clientele and maintains few if any of its own logs". Later, WikiLeaks was hosted mainly by the Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof in the Pionen facility, a former nuclear bunker in Sweden. Other servers are spread around the world with the main server located in Sweden. Julian Assange has said that the servers are located in Sweden and the other countries "specifically because those nations offer legal protection to the disclosures made on the site". He talks about the Swedish constitution, which gives the information–providers total legal protection. It is forbidden, according to Swedish law, for any administrative authority to make inquiries about the sources of any type of newspaper. These laws, and the hosting by PRQ, make it difficult for any authority to eliminate WikiLeaks; they place a burden of proof upon any complainant whose suit would circumscribe WikiLeaks' liberty, e.g. its rights to exercise free speech online. Furthermore, "WikiLeaks maintains its own servers at undisclosed locations, keeps no logs and uses military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information." Such arrangements have been called "bulletproof hosting".
After the site became the target of a denial-of-service attack on its old servers, WikiLeaks moved its website to Amazon's servers. Later, however, the website was "ousted" from the Amazon servers. In a public statement, Amazon said that WikiLeaks was not following its terms of service. The company further explained: "There were several parts they were violating. For example, our terms of service state that 'you represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the content ... that use of the content you supply does not violate this policy and will not cause injury to any person or entity.' It's clear that WikiLeaks doesn't own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content." WikiLeaks was then moved to servers at OVH, a private web-hosting service in France. After criticism from the French government, the company sought two court rulings about the legality of hosting WikiLeaks. While the court in Lille immediately refused to force OVH to deactivate the WikiLeaks website, the court in Paris stated it would need more time to examine the complex technical issue.[needs update]
WikiLeaks used EveryDNS, but was dropped by the company after distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against WikiLeaks hurt the quality of service for its other customers. Supporters of WikiLeaks waged verbal and DDoS attacks on EveryDNS. Because of a typographical error in blogs mistaking EveryDNS for competitor EasyDNS, the sizeable Internet backlash hit EasyDNS. Despite that, EasyDNS (upon request of a customer who was setting up new WikiLeaks hosting) began providing WikiLeaks with DNS service on "two 'battle hardened' servers" to protect the quality of service for its other customers.
WikiLeaks restructured its process for contributions after its first document leaks did not gain much attention. Assange stated this was part of an attempt to take the voluntary effort typically seen in "Wiki" projects, and "redirect it to ... material that has real potential for change". Some sympathisers were unhappy when WikiLeaks ended a community-based wiki format in favour of a more centralised organisation. The "about" page originally read:
To the user, WikiLeaks will look very much like Wikipedia. Anybody can post to it, anybody can edit it. No technical knowledge is required. Leakers can post documents anonymously and untraceably. Users can publicly discuss documents and analyse their credibility and veracity. Users can discuss interpretations and context and collaboratively formulate collective publications. Users can read and write explanatory articles on leaks along with background material and context. The political relevance of documents and their verisimilitude will be revealed by a cast of thousands.
However, WikiLeaks established an editorial policy that accepted only documents that were "of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical interest" (and excluded "material that is already publicly available"). This coincided with early criticism that having no editorial policy would drive out good material with spam and promote "automated or indiscriminate publication of confidential records". The original FAQ is no longer in effect, and no one can post or edit documents on WikiLeaks. Now, submissions to WikiLeaks are reviewed by anonymous WikiLeaks reviewers, and documents that do not meet the editorial criteria are rejected. By 2008, the revised FAQ stated: "Anybody can post comments to it. [ ... ] Users can publicly discuss documents and analyse their credibility and veracity." After the 2010 reorganisation, posting new comments on leaks was no longer possible.
Further information: Reception of WikiLeaks
The legal status of WikiLeaks is complex. Assange considers WikiLeaks a protection intermediary. Rather than leaking directly to the press, and fearing exposure and retribution, whistleblowers can leak to WikiLeaks, which then leaks to the press for them. Its servers are located throughout Europe and are accessible from any uncensored web connection. The group located its headquarters in Sweden because it has one of the world's strongest laws to protect confidential source-journalist relationships. WikiLeaks has stated it does not solicit any information. However, Assange used his speech during the Hack in the Box conference in Malaysia to ask the crowd of hackers and security researchers to help find documents on its "Most Wanted Leaks of 2009" list.[needs update]
Potential criminal prosecution
See also: Julian Assange § United States criminal investigation
The US Justice Department began a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange soon after the leak of diplomatic cables in 2010 began.[unreliable source?] Former Attorney General Eric Holder said the investigation was "not saber-rattling", but was "an active, ongoing criminal investigation".The Washington Post reported that the department was considering charges under the Espionage Act of 1917, an action which former prosecutors characterised as "difficult" because of First Amendment protections for the press. Several Supreme Court cases (e.g. Bartnicki v. Vopper) have established previously that the American Constitution protects the re-publication of illegally gained information provided the publishers did not themselves violate any laws in acquiring it. Federal prosecutors considered prosecuting Assange for trafficking in stolen government property, but since the diplomatic cables are intellectual rather than physical property, that method is also difficult. Any prosecution of Assange would require extraditing him to the United States, a procedure made more complicated and potentially delayed by any preceding extradition to Sweden.[needs update] One of Assange's lawyers, however, said they are fighting extradition to Sweden because it might result in his extradition to the United States.[needs update] Assange's attorney, Mark Stephens, "heard from Swedish authorities there has been a secretly empanelled grand jury in Alexandria, [Virginia]", meeting to consider criminal charges in the WikiLeaks case.[needs update]
In December 2010, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that "I absolutely condemn the placement of this information on the WikiLeaks website - it's a grossly irresponsible thing to do and an illegal thing to do". After criticism and a revolt within her party, she said she was referring to "the original theft of the material by a junior U.S. serviceman rather than any action by Mr Assange". Spencer Zifcak, president of Liberty Victoria, an Australian civil liberties group, noted that, without a charge or a trial completed, it was inappropriate to state that WikiLeaks was guilty of illegal activities. The Australian Federal Police later said that the release of the cables by WikiLeaks breached no Australian laws.
On threats by various governments towards Julian Assange, legal expert Ben Saul said that Assange is the target of a global smear campaign to demonise him as a criminal or as a terrorist, without any legal basis. The US Center for Constitutional Rights issued a statement expressing alarm at the "multiple examples of legal overreach and irregularities" in his arrest.
Use of leaked documents in court
In April 2011, the US Department of Justice warned military lawyers acting for Guantanamo Bay detainees against clicking of links on sites such as the New York Times that might lead to classified files published by WikiLeaks. In June 2011, the US Department of Justice ruled that attorneys acting for Guantanamo Bay detainees could cite documents published by WikiLeaks. The use of the documents was subject to restrictions.
On 8 February 2018, the UK Supreme Court unanimously allowed a document that had been leaked through WikiLeaks to be admitted as evidence. The cable had been excluded from use in an earlier part of the case before the Administrative Court based on the fact that it was a diplomatic communication, which enjoy "inviolable" protections that prevent them from being used in court outside of exceptional circumstances. The Supreme Court ruled that since the document had already been widely disseminated, it had lost any protections it might have had. The hearing was considered an important test of the Vienna Convention in relation to WikiLeaks documents.
WikiLeaks is a self-described not-for-profit organisation, funded largely by volunteers, and is dependent on public donations. Its main financing methods include conventional bank transfers and online payment systems. According to Assange, WikiLeaks' lawyers often work pro bono. Assange has said that in some cases legal aid has been donated by media organisations such as the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, and the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Assange said in 2010 that WikiLeaks' only revenue consists of donations, but it has considered other options including auctioning early access to documents. During September 2011, WikiLeaks began auctioning items on eBay to raise funds, and Assange told an audience at Sydney's Festival of Dangerous Ideas that the organisation might not be able to survive.[needs update]
On 24 December 2009, WikiLeaks announced that it was experiencing a shortage of funds and suspended all access to its website except for a form to submit new material. Material that was previously published was no longer available, although some could still be accessed on unofficial mirror websites at the time. WikiLeaks stated on its website that it would resume full operation once the operational costs were paid. WikiLeaks saw this as a kind of work stoppage "to ensure that everyone who is involved stops normal work and actually spends time raising revenue". While the organisation initially planned for funds to be secured by 6 January 2010, it was not until 3 February 2010 that WikiLeaks announced that its minimum fundraising goal had been achieved.
The Wau Holland Foundation helps to process donations to WikiLeaks. In July 2010, the Foundation stated that WikiLeaks was not receiving any money for personnel costs, only for hardware, travelling and bandwidth. An article in TechEye stated:
As a charity accountable under German law, donations for Wikileaks can be made to the foundation. Funds are held in escrow and are given to Wikileaks after the whistleblower website files an application containing a statement with proof of payment. The foundation does not pay any sort of salary nor give any renumeration (sic) to Wikileaks' personnel, corroborating the statement of the site's German representative Daniel Schmitt on national television that all personnel work voluntarily, even its speakers.
In December 2010, the Wau Holland Foundation stated that four permanent employees, including Julian Assange, had begun to receive salaries.
In 2010, Assange said the organisation was registered as a library in Australia, a foundation in France, and a newspaper in Sweden, and that it also used two United States-based non-profit 501c3 organisations for funding purposes.
In June 2010, WikiLeaks was a finalist for a grant of more than half a million dollars from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, but did not make the final approval. WikiLeaks commented via Twitter: "WikiLeaks was highest rated project in the Knight challenge, strongly recommended to the board but gets no funding. Go figure." WikiLeaks said that the Knight foundation announced the award to "'12 Grantees who will impact future of news' – but not WikiLeaks" and questioned whether Knight foundation was "really looking for impact". A spokesman of the Knight Foundation disputed parts of WikiLeaks' statement, saying "WikiLeaks was not recommended by Knight staff to the board." However, he declined to say whether WikiLeaks was the project rated highest by the Knight advisory panel, which consists of non-staffers, among them journalist Jennifer 8. Lee, who has done PR work for WikiLeaks with the press and on social networking websites.
During 2010, WikiLeaks received €635,772.73 in PayPal donations, less €30,000 in PayPal fees, and €695,925.46 in bank transfers. €500,988.89 of the sum was received in the month of December, primarily as bank transfers. €298,057.38 of the remainder was received in April.
The Wau Holland Foundation, one of the WikiLeaks' main funding channels, stated that they received more than €900,000 in public donations between October 2009 and December 2010, of which €370,000 has been passed on to WikiLeaks. Hendrik Fulda, vice-president of the Wau Holland Foundation, said that every new WikiLeaks publication brought "a wave of support", and that donations were strongest in the weeks after WikiLeaks started publishing leaked diplomatic cables.
Financial blockade of WikiLeaks
On 22 January 2010, the Internet payment intermediary PayPal suspended WikiLeaks' donation account and froze its assets. WikiLeaks said that this had happened before, and was done for "no obvious reason". The account was restored on 25 January 2010. On 18 May 2010, WikiLeaks announced that its website and archive were operational again.
In December 2010, PayPal suspended WikiLeaks' account, thereby stopping people from donating to WikiLeaks through PayPal. Hendrik Fulda, vice-president of the Wau Holland Foundation, which was one of the WikiLeaks' main funding channels, said that the Foundation had been receiving twice as many donations through PayPal as through normal banks, before PayPal's decision to suspend WikiLeaks' account.Mastercard and Visa Europe also decided to stop accepting payments to WikiLeaks. Bank of America, Amazon and Swiss bank PostFinance had previously stopped dealing with WikiLeaks. Datacell, the IT company which enables WikiLeaks to accept credit and debit card donations, threatened Mastercard and Visa with legal action to enforce the resumption of payments to WikiLeaks. Datacell said Visa's action was the result of political pressure.
In July 2011, WikiLeaks filed a complaint against Visa and MasterCard with the European Commission.
In October 2011, Assange said the financial blockade by Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union, had cost WikiLeaks ninety-five percent of its revenue.
In 2012, an Icelandic district court ruled that Valitor, the Icelandic partner of Visa and MasterCard, was violating the law when it stopped accepting credit card donations to WikiLeaks. The court ruled that donations to WikiLeaks must resume within 14 days or Valitor would be fined US$6,000 a day.
In June 2011, WikiLeaks opened a bitcoin donation channel to circumvent the financial blockade. In the three years to 2016, it received a majority of its donations in the form of bitcoin and litecoin. In 2021, Assange's brother Gabriel Shipton said that, since 2011, "WikiLeaks has used its bitcoin donations to fend off attacks and blockades, both illegal and legal, by governments and corporations, to overcome the extra-legal banking blockade and be able to keep its archive online, continue to publish and remain censorship resistant".
Main article: Information published by WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks posted its first document in December 2006, a decision to assassinate Somali government officials signed by rebel leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.
In August 2007, the UK newspaper The Guardian published a story about corruption by the family of the former Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi based on information provided via WikiLeaks.
In November 2007, a March 2003 copy of Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta detailing the protocol of the US Army at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp was released. The document revealed that some prisoners were off-limits to the International Committee of the Red Cross, something that the US military had in the past denied repeatedly. The Guantánamo Bay Manual included procedures for transferring prisoners and methods of evading protocols of the Geneva convention.
In February 2008, WikiLeaks released allegations of illegal activities at the Cayman Islands branch of the Swiss Bank Julius Baer, which resulted in the bank suing WikiLeaks and obtaining an injunction which temporarily suspended the operation of wikileaks.org. The California judge had the service provider of WikiLeaks block the site's domain (wikileaks.org) on 18 February 2008, although the bank only wanted the documents to be removed but WikiLeaks had failed to name a contact. The website was instantly mirrored by supporters, and later that month the judge overturned his previous decision citing First Amendment concerns and questions about legal jurisdiction.
In March 2008, WikiLeaks published what they referred to as "the collected secret 'bibles' of Scientology", and three days later received letters threatening to sue them for breach of copyright.
In September 2008, during the 2008 United States presidential election campaigns, the contents of a Yahoo account belonging to Sarah Palin (the running mate of Republican presidential nominee John McCain) were posted on WikiLeaks after being hacked by 4chan user David Kernell.
In November 2008, the membership list of the far-right British National Party was posted to WikiLeaks, after appearing briefly on a weblog. A year later, in October 2009, another list of BNP members was leaked.
In January 2009, WikiLeaks released 86 telephone intercept recordings of Peruvian politicians and businessmen involved in the 2008 Peru oil scandal.
During February, WikiLeaks released 6,780 Congressional Research Service reports followed in March by a list of contributors to the Norm Coleman senatorial campaign and a set of documents belonging to Barclays Bank that had been ordered removed from the website of The Guardian.
In July, it released a report relating to a serious nuclear accident that had occurred at the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility in 2009. Later media reports suggested that the accident was related to the Stuxnetcomputer worm.
In September, internal documents from Kaupthing Bank were leaked, from shortly before the collapse of Iceland's banking sector, which had caused the 2008–2012 Icelandic financial crisis. The document showed that suspiciously large sums of money were loaned to various owners of the bank, and large debts written off.
In October, Joint Services Protocol 440, a British document advising the security services on how to avoid documents being leaked, was published by WikiLeaks. Later that month, it announced that a super-injunction was being used by the commodities company Trafigura to stop The Guardian (London) from reporting on a leaked internal document regarding a toxic dumping incident in Côte d'Ivoire.
In November, it hosted copies of e-mail correspondence between climate scientists, although they were not leaked originally to WikiLeaks. It also released 570,000 intercepts of pager messages sent on the day of the 11 September attacks. These included messages sent from the Pentagon, the FBI, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the NYPD, in response to the disaster.
During 2008 and 2009, WikiLeaks published lists of forbidden or illegal web addresses for Australia, Denmark and Thailand. These were originally created to prevent access to child pornography and terrorism, but the leaks revealed that other sites featuring unrelated subjects were also listed.
Main articles: Iraq War documents leak and Afghan War documents leak
In mid-February 2010, WikiLeaks received a leaked diplomatic cable from the United States Embassy in Reykjavik relating to the Icesave scandal, which they published on 18 February. The cable, known as Reykjavik 13, was the first of the classified documents WikiLeaks published among those allegedly provided to them by United States Army Private Chelsea Manning (then known as Bradley). In March 2010, WikiLeaks released a secret 32-page US Department of Defense Counterintelligence Analysis Report written in March 2008 discussing the leaking of material by WikiLeaks and how it could be deterred.
In April, a classified video of the 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrike was released, showing two Reuters employees being fired at, after the pilots mistakenly thought the men were carrying weapons, which were in fact cameras. After the men were killed, the video shows US forces firing on a family van that stopped to pick up the bodies. Press reports of the number killed in the attacks vary from 12 to "over 18". Among the dead were two journalists and two children were also wounded.
In June 2010, Manning was arrested after alleged chat logs were given to United States authorities by former hacker Adrian Lamo, in whom she had confided. Manning reportedly told Lamo she had leaked the "Collateral Murder" video, in addition to a video of the Granai airstrike and about 260,000 diplomatic cables, to WikiLeaks.
In July, WikiLeaks released 92,000 documents related to the war in Afghanistan between 2004 and the end of 2009 to the publications The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel. The documents detail individual incidents including "friendly fire" and civilian casualties. About 15,000 of the 92,000 documents have not yet been released by WikiLeaks, as the group is currently reviewing the documents to remove some of the sources of the information.[needs update] WikiLeaks asked the Pentagon and human-rights groups to help remove names from the documents to reduce the potential harm caused by their release, but did not receive assistance. After the Love Parade stampede in Duisburg, Germany, on 24 July 2010, a local resident published internal documents of the city administration regarding the planning of Love Parade. The city government reacted by securing a court order on 16 August forcing the removal of the documents from the website on which it was hosted. On 20 August 2010, WikiLeaks released a publication entitled Loveparade 2010 Duisburg planning documents, 2007–2010, which consisted of 43 internal documents regarding the Love Parade 2010. After the leak of information concerning the Afghan War, in October 2010, around 400,000 documents relating to the Iraq War were released. The BBC quoted the US Department of Defense referring to the Iraq War Logs as "the largest leak of classified documents in its history". Media coverage of the leaked documents emphasised claims that the US government had ignored reports of torture by the Iraqi authorities during the period after the 2003 war.
On 29 July 2010 WikiLeaks added an "Insurance file" to the Afghan War Diary page. The file is AES encrypted. There has been speculation that it was intended to serve as insurance in case the WikiLeaks website or its spokesman Julian Assange are incapacitated, upon which the passphrase could be published. After the first few days' release of the US diplomatic cables starting 28 November 2010, the US television broadcasting company CBS predicted that "If anything happens to Assange or the website, a key will go out to unlock the files. There would then be no way to stop the information from spreading like wildfire because so many people already have copies." CBS correspondent Declan McCullagh stated, "What most folks are speculating is that the insurance file contains unreleased information that would be especially embarrassing to the US government if it were released."
Diplomatic cables release
Main articles: United States diplomatic cables leak, contents, and reactions
On 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and five major newspapers from Spain (El País), France (Le Monde), Germany (Der Spiegel), the United Kingdom (The Guardian), and the United States (The New York Times) started simultaneously to publish the first 220 of 251,287 leaked documents labelled confidential – but not top-secret – and dated from 28 December 1966 to 28 February 2010. WikiLeaks planned to release the entirety of the cables in phases over several months.[needs update]
Assange wrote "What makes the revelations of secret communications potent is that we were not supposed to read them. Diplomatic cables are not produced in order to manipulate the public, but are aimed at elements of the rest of the US state apparatus, and are therefore relatively free from the distorting influence of public relations".
The contents of the diplomatic cables include numerous unguarded comments and revelations regarding: US diplomats gathering personal information about Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and other top UN officials; critiques and praises about the host countries of various United States embassies; political manoeuvring regarding climate change; discussion and resolutions towards ending ongoing tension in the Middle East; efforts and resistance towards nuclear disarmament; actions in the War on Terror; assessments of other threats around the world; dealings between various countries; United States intelligence and counterintelligence efforts; and other diplomatic actions. Reactions to the United States diplomatic cables leak varied. On 14 December 2010 the United States Department of Justice issued a subpoena directing Twitter to provide information for accounts registered to or associated with WikiLeaks. Twitter decided to notify its users. The overthrow of the presidency in Tunisia of 2011 has been attributed partly to reaction against the corruption revealed by leaked cables.
On 1 September 2011, it became public that an encrypted version of WikiLeaks' huge archive of un-redacted US State Department cables had been available via BitTorrent for months and that the decryption key (similar to a password) was available to those who knew where to find it.Guardian newspaper editor David Leigh and journalist Luke Harding published the decryption key in their book, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, so the files were now publicly available to anyone. Rather than let malicious actors publish selected data, WikiLeaks decided to publish the entire, unredacted archive in searchable form on its website.
Main articles: Guantanamo Bay files leak, Global Intelligence Files leak, Syria Files, and 2012–13 Stratfor email leak
In late April 2011, files related to the Guantanamo prison were released. In December 2011, WikiLeaks started to release the Spy Files. On 27 February 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. On 5 July 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing the Syria Files (emails from Syrian political figures 2006–2012). On 25 October 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Detainee Policies, files covering the rules and procedures for detainees in US military custody. In April 2013 WikiLeaks published more than 1.7 million US diplomatic and intelligence documents from the 1970s, including the Kissinger cables.
In 2013, the organisation assisted Edward Snowden (who is responsible for the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures) in leaving Hong Kong. Sarah Harrison, a WikiLeaks activist, accompanied Snowden on the flight. Scott Shane of The New York Times stated that the WikiLeaks involvement "shows that despite its shoestring staff, limited fund-raising from a boycott by major financial firms, and defections prompted by Mr. Assange's personal troubles and abrasive style, it remains a force to be reckoned with on the global stage."
In September 2013, WikiLeaks published "Spy Files 3", 250 documents from more than 90 surveillance companies. On 13 November 2013, a draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership's Intellectual Property Rights chapter was published by WikiLeaks. On 10 June 2015, WikiLeaks published the draft on the Trans-Pacific Partnership's Transparency for Healthcare Annex, along with each country's negotiating position. On 19 June 2015 WikiLeaks began publishing The Saudi Cables: more than half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry that contain secret communications from various Saudi Embassies around the world.
On 23 June 2015, WikiLeaks published documents under the name of "Espionnage Élysée", which showed that NSA spied on the French government, including but not limited to then President Francois Hollande and his predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac. On 29 June 2015, WikiLeaks published more NSA top secrets intercepts regarding France, detailing an economic espionage against French companies and associations. In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents which showed that the NSA had tapped the telephones of many German federal ministries, including that of the Chancellor Angela Merkel, for years since the 1990s. On 4 July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents which showed that 29 Brazilian government numbers were selected for secret espionage by the NSA. Among the targets were then-President Dilma Rousseff, many assistants and advisors, her presidential jet and other key figures in the Brazilian government.
On 29 July 2015, WikiLeaks published a top secret letter from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Ministerial Meeting in December 2013 which illustrated the position of negotiating countries on "state-owned enterprises" (SOEs). On 31 July 2015, WikiLeaks published secret intercepts and the related target list showing that the NSA spied on the Japanese government, including the Cabinet and Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi and Mitsui. The documents revealed that United States espionage against Japan concerned broad sections of communications about the US-Japan diplomatic relationship and Japan's position on climate change issues, other than an extensive monitoring of the Japanese economy. On 21 October 2015 WikiLeaks published some of John O. Brennan's emails, including a draft security clearance application which contained personal information.
Main articles: Hillary Clinton email controversy, 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak, and Podesta emails
During the 2016 US Democratic Party presidential primaries, WikiLeaks hosted emails sent or received by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton from her personal mail server while she was Secretary of State. The emails had been released by the US State Department under a Freedom of information request in February 2016. WikiLeaks also created a search engine to allow the public to search through Clinton's emails. The emails were selected in terms of their relevance to the Iraq War and were apparently timed to precede the release of the UK government's Iraq Inquiry report. The emails were a major point of discussion during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, requiring an FBI investigation which decided that Clinton had been "extremely careless" but recommended that no charges be filed against her.
On 19 July 2016, in response to the Turkish government's purges that followed the coup attempt, WikiLeaks released 294,548 emails from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development party (AKP). According to WikiLeaks, the material, which they claim to be the first batch from the "AKP Emails", was obtained a week before the attempted coup in the country and "is not connected, in any way, to the elements behind the attempted coup, or to a rival political party or state". After WikiLeaks announced that they would release the emails, the organisation was for over 24 hours under a "sustained attack". Following the leak, the Turkish government ordered the site to be blocked nationwide.
Most experts agree that Phineas Fisher was behind the leak. Fisher asked WikiLeaks not to publish the AKP emails as she was still access files on the AKP network. After WikiLeaks published the emails, the AKP shut down its internal network and Fisher lost access. Fisher said WikiLeaks had told her that the emails were "all spam and crap."
WikiLeaks had also tweeted a link to a database which contained sensitive information, such as the Turkish Identification Number, of approximately 50 million Turkish citizens, including nearly every female voter in Turkey. The information first appeared online in April of the same year and was not in the files uploaded by WikiLeaks, but in files described by WikiLeaks as "the full data for the Turkey AKP emails and more" which was archived by Emma Best, who then removed it when the personal data was discovered.
On 22 July 2016, WikiLeaks released approximately 20,000 emails and 8,000 files sent from or received by Democratic National Committee (DNC) personnel. Some of the emails contained personal information of donors, including home addresses and Social Security numbers. Other emails appeared to criticise Bernie Sanders or showed favouritism towards Clinton during the primaries. Emails showed that the DNC shared debate questions with Clinton in advance. In July 2016, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) because the emails released by WikiLeaks showed that the DNC was "effectively an arm of Mrs. Clinton's campaign" and had conspired to sabotage Bernie Sanders's campaign.
On 7 October 2016, WikiLeaks started releasing series of emails and documents sent from or received by Hillary Clinton campaign manager, John Podesta, including Hillary Clinton's paid speeches to banks, including Goldman Sachs. The BBC reported that the release “is unlikely to allay fears among liberal Democrats that she is too cosy with Wall Street”. According to a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, "By dribbling these out every day WikiLeaks is proving they are nothing but a propaganda arm of the Kremlin with a political agenda doing Vladimir Putin's dirty work to help elect Donald Trump."The New York Times reported that when asked, President Vladimir Putin replied that Russia was being falsely accused. "The hysteria is merely caused by the fact that somebody needs to divert the attention of the American people from the essence of what was exposed by the hackers."
On 17 October 2016, WikiLeaks announced that a "state party" had severed the Internet connection of Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy. WikiLeaks blamed United States Secretary of StateJohn Kerry of pressuring the Ecuadorian government in severing Assange's Internet, an accusation which the United States State Department denied. The Ecuadorian government stated that it had "temporarily" severed Assange's Internet connection because of WikiLeaks' release of documents "impacting on the U.S. election campaign," although it also stated that this was not meant to prevent WikiLeaks from operating.
On 25 November 2016, WikiLeaks released emails and internal documents that provided details on the US military operations in Yemen from 2009 to March 2015. In a statement accompanying the release of the "Yemen Files", Assange said about the US involvement in the Yemen war: "The war in Yemen has produced 3.15 million internally displaced persons. Although the United States government has provided most of the bombs and is deeply involved in the conduct of the war itself reportage on the war in English is conspicuously rare".
In December 2016, WikiLeaks published over 57,000 emails from Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, who was Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. The emails show the inner workings of the Turkish government.
On 16 February 2017, WikiLeaks released a purported report on CIA espionage orders (marked as NOFORN) for the 2012 French presidential election. The order called for details of party funding, internal rivalries and future attitudes toward the United States. The Associated Press noted that "the orders seemed to represent standard intelligence-gathering."
On 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks started publishing content code-named "Vault 7", describing it as containing CIA internal documentation of their "massive arsenal" of hacking tools including malware, virus projects, weaponised "zero day" exploits and remote control systems to name a few. Leaked documents, dated from 2013 to 2016, detail the capabilities of the United StatesCentral Intelligence Agency (CIA) to perform electronic surveillance and cyber warfare, such as the ability to compromise cars, smart TVs,web browsers (including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera Software ASA), and the operating systems of most smartphones (including Apple's iOS and Google's Android), as well as other operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux. In September 2021, Yahoo! News reported that in 2017 in the wake of the Vault 7 leaks, the CIA planned to spy on associates of WikiLeaks, sow discord among its members, and steal their electronic devices. "[T]op intelligence officials lobbied the White House" to designate Wikileaks as an "information broker" to allow for more investigative tools against it, "potentially paving the way" for its prosecution. Laura Poitras described attempts to classify herself and Assange as "information brokers" rather than journalists as "bone-chilling and a threat to journalists worldwide". Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo stated that the US officials who had spoken to Yahoo should be prosecuted for exposing CIA activities.
On 5 May 2017, WikiLeaks posted links to e-mails purported to be from Emmanuel Macron's campaign in the French 2017 presidential election. The documents were first relayed on the 4chan forum and by pro-Trump Twitter accounts, and then by WikiLeaks, who indicated they did not author the leaks. Some experts have said that the WikiLeaks Twitter account played a key role in publicising the leaks through the hashtag #MacronLeaks just some three-and-a-half hours after the first tweet with the hashtag appeared. The campaign stated that false documents were mixed in with real ones, and that "the ambition of the authors of this leak is obviously to harm the movement En Marche! in the final hours before the second round of the French presidential election." France's Electoral Commission described the action as a "massive and coordinated piracy action." France's Electoral Commission urged journalists not to report on the contents of the leaks, but to heed "the sense of responsibility they must demonstrate, as at stake are the free expression of voters and the sincerity of the election."Cybersecurity experts initially believed that groups linked to Russia were involved in this attack. The Kremlin denied any involvement. The head of the French cyber-security agency, ANSSI, later said that they did not have evidence connecting the hack with Russia, saying that the attack was so simple, that "we can imagine that it was a person who did this alone. They could be in any country."
In September 2017, WikiLeaks released "Spy Files Russia," revealing "how a St. Petersburg-based technology company called Peter-Service helped state entities gather detailed data on Russian cellphone users, part of a national system of online surveillance called System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM)." Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov said that "there is some data here that’s worth publishing. Anything that gets people talking about Russia's capabilities and actions in this area should be seen as a positive development."
In November 2019, WikiLeaks released an email from an unnamed investigator from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) team investigating the 2018 chemical attack in Douma (Syria). The investigator accused the OPCW of covering up discrepancies.Robert Fisk said that documents released by WikiLeaks indicated that the OPCW "suppressed or failed to publish, or simply preferred to ignore, the conclusions of up to 20 other members of its staff who became so upset at what they regarded as the misleading conclusions of the final report that they officially sought to have it changed in order to represent the truth". The head of OPCW, Fernando Arias, described the leak as containing "subjective views" and stood by the original conclusions.
On 12 November 2019, WikiLeaks began publishing what it called the Fishrot Files (Icelandic: Samherjaskjölin), a collection of thousands of documents and email communication by employees of one of Iceland's largest fish industry companies, Samherji, that indicated that the company had paid hundreds of millions Icelandic króna to high ranking politicians and officials in Namibia with the objective of acquiring the country’s coveted fishing quota.
In 2021, WikiLeaks released a database of 17,000 documents, which it called The Intolerance Network, from the ultra-conservative Spanish Catholic organisation Hazte Oir and its international arm, CitizenGo. The documents reveal the internal workings of the organisations, their network of donors and their relationship with the Vatican. The release also includes documents from the secret Catholic organisation El Yunque. The editor of WikiLeaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson, said "As ultra right-wing political groups have gained strength in recent years, with increasing attacks on women’s and LGBT rights, it is valuable to have access to documents from those who have lobbied for those changes on a global basis".
Claims of upcoming leaks
This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(March 2019)
In January 2011, Rudolf Elmer, a former Swiss banker, passed data containing account details of 2,000 prominent people to Assange, who stated that the information would be vetted before being made publicly available at a later date. In May 2010, WikiLeaks said it had video footage of a massacre of civilians in Afghanistan by the US military which they were preparing to release. In an interview with Chris Anderson on 19 July 2010, Assange showed a document WikiLeaks had on an Albanian oil-well blowout, and said they also had material from inside British Petroleum, and that they were "getting enormous quantity of whistleblower disclosures of a very high calibre" but added that they had not been able to verify and release the material because they did not have enough volunteer journalists. In December 2010, Assange's lawyer, Mark Stephens, told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC Television that WikiLeaks had information it considered to be a "thermo-nuclear device" which it would release if the organisation needs to defend itself against the authorities.
In a 2009 interview with Computerworld magazine, Assange claimed to be in possession of "5GB from Bank of America". In 2010, he told Forbes magazine that WikiLeaks was planning another "megaleak" early in 2011, from the private sector, involving "a big U.S. bank" and revealing an "ecosystem of corruption". Bank of America's stock price decreased by 3%, apparently as a result of this announcement. Assange commented on the possible effect of the release that "it could take down a bank or two". In August 2011, Reuters reported that Daniel Domscheit-Berg had destroyed around 3,000 submissions related to Bank of America (most of them "random junk"), out of concern over WikiLeaks' inadequate protection of sources. The WikiLeaks Twitter account (believed to be controlled by Assange) stated "five gigabytes from the Bank of America" had been deleted, but Domscheit-Berg stated that he had only destroyed material received after Assange's Computerworld interview, and raised the possibility that Assange had lost access to the material because of technical deficiencies in WikiLeaks' submission system.
In October 2010, Assange told a major Moscow newspaper that "The Kremlin had better brace itself for a coming wave of WikiLeaks disclosures about Russia". Assange later clarified: "we have material on many businesses and governments, including in Russia. It's not right to say there's going to be a particular focus on Russia".
WikiLeaks stated in 2010 that it has never released a misattributed document and that documents are assessed before release. In response to concerns about the possibility of misleading or fraudulent leaks, WikiLeaks has stated that misleading leaks "are already well-placed in the mainstream media. WikiLeaks is of no additional assistance." The FAQ states that: "The simplest and most effective countermeasure is a worldwide community of informed users and editors who can scrutinise and discuss leaked documents." According to statements by Assange in 2010, submitted documents are vetted by a group of five reviewers, with expertise in different topics such as language or programming, who also investigate the background of the leaker if his or her identity is known.[needs update] In that group, Assange has the final decision about the assessment of a document.
Columnist Eric Zorn wrote in 2016 "So far, it's possible, even likely, that every stolen email WikiLeaks has posted has been authentic," but cautioned against assuming that future releases would be equally authentic. Writer Glenn Greenwald stated in 2016 that WikiLeaks has a "perfect, long-standing record of only publishing authentic documents." Cybersecurity experts have said that it would be easy for a person to fabricate an email or alter it, as by changing headers and metadata.
Some of the releases, including many of the Podesta emails, contain DKIM headers. This allows them to be verified as genuine to some degree of certainty.
In July 2016, the Aspen Institute's Homeland Security Group, a bipartisan counterterrorism organisation, warned that hackers who stole authentic data might "salt the files they release with plausible forgeries." According to Douglas Perry, Russian intelligence agencies have frequently used disinformation tactics. He wrote in 2016 that "carefully faked emails might be included in the WikiLeaks dumps. After all, the best way to make false information believable is to mix it in with true information."
Lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee
Main article: Democratic National Committee v. Russian Federation
On 20 April 2018, the Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan against Russia, the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, alleging a conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 United States presidential election in Trump's favour. The suit was dismissed with prejudice on 30 July 2019. In his judgement, Judge John Koeltl said that WikiLeaks "did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place" and was therefore within the law in publishing the information. He also said that the DNC case was "entirely divorced" from the facts. The suit could not be refiled due to its "substantive legal defect". The federal judge also wrote "The DNC’s interest in keeping ‘donor lists’ and ‘fundraising strategies’ secret is dwarfed by the newsworthiness of the documents as a whole”...“If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet".
Promotion of conspiracy theories
Murder of Seth Rich
Further information: Murder of Seth Rich
WikiLeaks has promoted conspiracy theories about the murder of Seth Rich. Unfounded conspiracy theories, spread by some right-wing figures and media outlets, hold that Rich was the source of leaked emails and was killed for working with WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks fuelled the conspiracy theories when it offered a $20,000 reward for information on Rich's killer and when Assange implied that Rich was the source of the DNC leaks. No evidence supports the claim that Rich was the source of the leaks. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian interference in the 2016 election said that Assange "implied falsely" that Rich was the source in order to obscure that Russia was the actual source.
The Guardian wrote that WikiLeaks, along with individuals and groups on the hard right, had been involved in the "ruthless exploitation of [Rich's] death for political purposes". The executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, an organisation that advocates for open government, was critical of WikiLeaks' fuelling of conspiracy theories surrounding the murder of Seth Rich: "If they feel like they have a link to the staffer's death, they should say it and be responsible about it. The insinuations, to me, are just disgusting."
Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton
WikiLeaks has popularised conspiracies about the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, such as tweeting articles which suggested Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta engaged in satanic rituals, implying that the Democratic Party had Seth Rich killed, claiming that Hillary Clinton wanted to drone strike Assange, suggesting that Clinton wore earpieces to debates and interviews, promoting conspiracy theories about Clinton's health, and promoting a conspiracy theory from a Donald Trump–related Internet community tying the Clinton campaign to child kidnapper Laura Silsby.
Criticism and controversies
Allegations of anti-Americanism
WikiLeaks has been accused of purposefully targeting certain states and people, and presenting its disclosures in misleading and conspiratorial ways to harm those people. Writing in 2012, Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating stated that "nearly all its major operations have targeted the U.S. government or American corporations."
Allegations of anti-Clinton and pro-Trump bias
Assange wrote on WikiLeaks in February 2016: "I have had years of experience in dealing with Hillary Clinton and have read thousands of her cables. Hillary lacks judgement and will push the United States into endless, stupid wars which spread terrorism. ... she certainly should not become president of the United States." In July 2017, during an interview by Amy Goodman, Julian Assange said that choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is like choosing between cholera or gonorrhea. "Personally, I would prefer neither." WikiLeaks editor Sarah Harrison stated that the site was not choosing which damaging publications to release, rather releasing information available to them.
In an Election Day statement, Assange criticised both Clinton and Trump, saying that "The Democratic and Republican candidates have both expressed hostility towards whistleblowers." In conversations that were leaked in February 2018, Assange expressed a preference for a Republican victory in the 2016 election, saying that "Dems+Media+liberals woudl [sic] then form a block to reign [sic] in their worst qualities. With Hillary in charge, GOP will be pushing for her worst qualities, dems+media+neoliberals will be mute." In further leaked correspondence with the Trump campaign on election day (8 November 2016), WikiLeaks encouraged the Trump campaign to contest the election results as being "rigged" should they lose.
Having released information that exposed the inner workings of a broad range of organisations and politicians, WikiLeaks started by 2016 to focus almost exclusively on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, WikiLeaks only exposed material damaging to the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton. WikiLeaks even rejected the opportunity to publish unrelated leaks, because it dedicated all its resources to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. According to The New York Times, WikiLeaks timed one of its large leaks so that it would happen on the eve of the Democratic Convention. The Washington Post noted that the leaks came at an important sensitive moment in the Clinton campaign, as she was preparing to announce her vice-presidential pick and unite the party behind her. The Sunlight Foundation, an organisation that advocates for open government, said that such actions meant that WikiLeaks was no longer striving to be transparent but rather sought to achieve political goals.
WikiLeaks explained its actions in a 2017 statement to Foreign Policy: "WikiLeaks schedules publications to maximize readership and reader engagement. During distracting media events such as the Olympics or a high profile election, unrelated publications are sometimes delayed until the distraction passes but never are rejected for this reason." On 7 October 2016, an hour after the media had begun to dedicate wall-to-wall coverage of the revelation that Trump had bragged on video about sexually harassing women, WikiLeaks began to release emails hacked from the personal account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. CNN notes that due to extensive coverage of the Trump tapes, the leaks were an "afterthought" in news coverage. Podesta suggested that the emails were timed to deflect attention from the Trump tapes.
In 2010, Donald Trump called WikiLeaks "disgraceful" and suggested that the "death penalty" should be a punishment for WikiLeaks' releases of information. Following the dump of e-mails hacked from the Hillary Clinton campaign, Donald Trump told voters, "I love WikiLeaks!" Trump made many references to WikiLeaks during the course of the campaign; by one estimate, he referenced disclosures by WikiLeaks over 160 times in speeches during the last 30 days of the campaign.
In October 2017, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a company working on behalf of the Trump presidential campaign, had contacted WikiLeaks about missing Hillary Clinton e-mails and the possibility of creating a searchable database for the campaign to use. After this was reported, Assange confirmed that WikiLeaks had been approached by Cambridge Analytica but had rejected the approach. WikiLeaks did not disclose what the subject of Cambridge Analytica's approach was.
Correspondence between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump Jr.
In November 2017, it was revealed that the WikiLeaks Twitter account corresponded with Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 presidential election. The correspondence shows how WikiLeaks actively solicited the co-operation of Trump Jr., a campaign surrogate and advisor in the campaign of his father. WikiLeaks urged the Trump campaign to reject the results of the 2016 presidential election at a time when it looked as if the Trump campaign would lose. WikiLeaks asked Trump Jr. to share a claim by Assange that Hillary Clinton had wanted to attack him with drones. WikiLeaks also shared a link to a site that would help people to search through WikiLeaks documents. Trump Jr. shared both. After the election, WikiLeaks also requested that the president-elect push Australia to appoint Assange as ambassador to the US. After The New York Times published a fragment of Donald Trump's tax returns for one year, WikiLeaks asked Trump Jr. for one or more of his father's tax returns, explaining that it would be in his father's best interest because it would "dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality" and not come "through the most biased source (e.g. NYT/MSNBC)." WikiLeaks also asked Trump Jr. to leak his own e-mails to them days after The New York Times broke a story about e-mail correspondence between Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-affiliated lawyer; WikiLeaks said that it would be "beautifully confounding" for them to publish the e-mails and that it would deprive other news outlets from putting a negative spin on the correspondence. Trump Jr. provided this correspondence to congressional investigators looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Allegations of Russian influence
In 2012, as WikiLeaks was under a financial blockade, Assange began to host a television show that was distributed by Journeyman Pictures and aired on Russia Today. Assange has never disclosed how much he or WikiLeaks were paid for his television show. Writing in Salon, Glenn Greenwald said that Assange did not represent the views of the Russian government in the show, and that the views Assange presented in his interview with Hassan Nasrallah were strongly critical of the Syrian government, a Russian ally.
In April 2016, WikiLeaks tweeted criticism of the Panama Papers, which had among other things revealed Russian businesses and individuals linked with offshore ties. Assange said that journalists had "cherry-picked" documents to maximise "Putin bashing, North Korea bashing, sanctions bashing, etc." while avoiding mention of Western figures. The WikiLeaks Twitter account tweeted, "#PanamaPapers Putin attack was produced by OCCRP which targets Russia & former USSR and was funded by USAID and [George] Soros". Putin later dismissed the Panama Papers by citing WikiLeaks: "WikiLeaks has showed us that official people and official organs of the U.S. are behind this." According to The New York Times, both Assange claims are substance-free: "there is no evidence suggesting that the United States government had a role in releasing the Panama Papers."
In August 2016, after WikiLeaks published thousands of DNC emails, DNC officials and a number of cybersecurity experts and cybersecurity firms claimed that Russian intelligence had hacked the e-mails and leaked them to WikiLeaks. Assange said that Russia was not the source of the documents and that the Clinton campaign was stoking "a neo-McCarthy hysteria". In October 2016, the US intelligence community said that it was "confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations". The US intelligence agencies said that the hacks were consistent with the methods of Russian-directed efforts, and that people high up within the Kremlin were likely involved. On 14 October 2016, CNN stated that "there is mounting evidence that the Russian government is supplying WikiLeaks with hacked emails pertaining to the U.S. presidential election." WikiLeaks said it had no connection with Russia. President Putin stated that there was no Russian involvement in the election.
In August 2016, a New York Times story suggested that WikiLeaks may be a laundering machine for compromising material about Western countries gathered by Russian spies.
In September 2016, the German weekly magazine Focus wrote that according to a confidential German government dossier, WikiLeaks had long since been infiltrated by Russian agents aiming to discredit NATO governments. The magazine added that French and British intelligence services had come to the same conclusion and said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev receive details about what WikiLeaks publishes before publication.
On 10 December 2016, The Washington Post wrote that the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Russia intelligence operatives provided materials to WikiLeaks in an effort to help Donald Trump's election bid. WikiLeaks has frequently been criticised[by whom?] for its alleged absence of whistleblowing on or criticism of Russia.
After President Trump's National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn resigned in February 2017 due to reports over his communications with Russian officials and subsequent lies over the content and nature of those communications, WikiLeaks tweeted that Flynn resigned "after [a] destabilization campaign by U.S. spies, Democrats, press."
In April 2017, the WikiLeaks Twitter account suggested that the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, which international human rights organisations and governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, and Israel attributed to the Syrian government, was a false flag attack. WikiLeaks stated that "while western establishment media beat the drum for more war in Syria the matter is far from clear", and shared a video by a Syrian activist who claimed that Islamist extremists were probably behind the chemical attack, not the Syrian government.
In April 2017, CIA Director Mike Pompeo stated: "It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia." Pompeo said that the US Intelligence Community had concluded that Russia's "primary propaganda outlet," RT had "actively collaborated" with WikiLeaks.
In May 2017, cybersecurity experts stated that they believed that groups affiliated with the Russian government were involved in the hacking and leaking of e-mails associated with the Emmanuel Macron campaign; these e-mails were published on Pastebin but heavily promoted by WikiLeaks social media channels. The head of the French cyber-security agency, ANSSI, said that they had no evidence connecting the hack with Russia, and that the attack was so simple "we can imagine that it was a person who did this alone. They could be in any country".
In August 2017, Foreign Policy wrote that WikiLeaks had in the summer of 2016 turned down a large cache of documents containing information damaging to the Russian government. WikiLeaks stated that, "As far as we recall these are already public ... WikiLeaks rejects all information that it cannot verify. WikiLeaks rejects submissions that have already been published elsewhere". News outlets had reported on contents of the leaks in 2014, amounting to less than half of the data that was allegedly made available to WikiLeaks in the summer of 2016.
In September 2017, WikiLeaks released the "Spy Files Russia," which detailed Russian government surveillance of internet and cellphone users in the country.
Allegations of anti-semitism
WikiLeaks has been accused of anti-semitism both in its Twitter activity and hiring decisions. According to Ian Hislop, Assange claimed that a "Jewish conspiracy" was attempting to discredit the organisation. Assange denied making this remark, stating "'Jewish conspiracy' is completely false, in spirit and in word. It is serious and upsetting."
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015, the WikiLeaks Twitter account wrote that "the Jewish pro-censorship lobby legitimized attacks", referring to the trial of Maurice Sinet. In July 2016, the same account suggested that triple parentheses, or (((echoes))) – a tool used by neo-Nazis to identify Jews on Twitter, appropriated by several Jews online out of solidarity – had been used as a way for "establishment climbers" to identify one another. In leaked internal conversations, the WikiLeaks Twitter account, thought[by whom?] to be controlled by Assange at the time, commented on Associated Press reporter Raphael Satter who had written an article critical of WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks tweeted that "[Satter]'s always ben(sic) a rat. But he’s jewish and engaged with the ((()))) issue".
Exaggerated and misleading descriptions of the contents of leaks
WikiLeaks has been criticised for making misleading claims about the contents of its leaks. Media outlets have also been criticised for uncritically repeating WikiLeaks' misleading claims about its leaks. According to University of North Carolina Professor Zeynep Tufekci, this is part of a pattern of behaviour. According to Tufekci, there are three steps to WikiLeaks' "disinformation campaigns": "The first step is to dump many documents at once — rather than allowing journalists to scrutinise them and absorb their significance before publication. The second step is to sensationalise the material with misleading news releases and tweets. The third step is to sit back and watch as the news media unwittingly promotes the WikiLeaks agenda under the auspices of independent reporting."
After the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt, WikiLeaks announced that it would release e-mails belonging to Turkey's ruling conservative Justice and Development Party. WikiLeaks released Turkish emails and documents as a response to the Turkish government's crackdown on real or alleged government opponents that followed the coup attempt. When these e-mails were released, however, it "was nothing but mundane mailing lists of tens of thousands of ordinary people who discussed politics online. Back then, too, the ruse worked: Many Western journalists had hyped these non-leaks."
Inadequate curation and violations of personal privacy
WikiLeaks has drawn criticism for violating the personal privacy of individuals and inadequately curating its content. These critics include transparency advocates, such as Edward Snowden, the Sunlight Foundation and the Federation of American Scientists.
WikiLeaks has published individuals' Social Security numbers, medical information, and credit card numbers. An analysis by the Associated Press found that WikiLeaks had in one of its mass-disclosures published "the personal information of hundreds of people – including sick children, rape victims and mental health patients". WikiLeaks has named teenage rape victims, and outed an individual arrested for homosexuality in Saudi Arabia. Some of WikiLeaks' cables "described patients with psychiatric conditions, seriously ill children or refugees". An analysis of WikiLeaks' Saudi cables "turned up more than 500 passport, identity, academic or employment files ... three dozen records pertaining to family issues in the cables – including messages about marriages, divorces, missing children, elopements and custody battles. Many are very personal, like the marital certificates that proclaims whether the bride was a virgin. Others deal with Saudis who are deeply in debt, including one man who says his wife stole his money. One divorce document details a male partner's infertility. Others identify the partners of women suffering from sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and Hepatitis C." Two individuals named in the DNC leaks were targeted by identity thieves following WikiLeaks' release of their Social Security and credit card information. In its leak of DNC e-mails, WikiLeaks revealed the details of an ordinary staffer's suicide attempt and brought attention to it through a tweet.
WikiLeaks' publishing of Sony's hacked e-mails drew criticism for violating the privacy of Sony's employees and for failing to be in the public interest.Michael A. Cohen, a fellow at the Century Foundation, argues that "data dumps like these represent a threat to our already shrinking zone of privacy." He noted that the willingness of WikiLeaks to publish information of this type encourages hacking and cyber theft: "With ready and willing amplifiers, what's to deter the next cyberthief from stealing a company's database of information and threatening to send it to Wikileaks if a list of demands aren't met?"
The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for open government, has criticised WikiLeaks for inadequate curation of its content and for "weaponised transparency," writing that with the DNC leaks, "Wikileaks again failed the due diligence review we expect of putatively journalistic entities when it published the personal information of ordinary citizens, including passport and Social Security numbers contained in the hacked emails of Democratic National Committee staff. We are not alone in raising ethical questions about Wikileaks' shift from whistleblower to platform for weaponised transparency. Any organisation that 'doxxes' a public is harming privacy." The manner in which WikiLeaks publishes content can have the effect of censoring political enemies: "Wikileaks' indiscriminate disclosure in this case is perhaps the closest we've seen in reality to the bogeyman projected by enemies to reform — that transparency is just a Trojan Horse for chilling speech and silencing political enemies."
In July 2016, Edward Snowden criticised WikiLeaks for insufficiently curating its content. When Snowden made data public, he did so by working with the Washington Post, the Guardian and other news organisations, choosing only to make documents public which exposed National Security Agency surveillance programs. Content that compromised national security or exposed sensitive personal information was withheld. WikiLeaks, on the other hand, made little effort to do either, Snowden said. WikiLeaks responded by accusing Snowden of pandering to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
University of North Carolina Professor Zeynep Tufekci has also criticised WikiLeaks for exposing sensitive personal information. She argued that data dumps, such as WikiLeaks, which violate personal privacy without being in the public interest "threaten our ability to dissent by destroying privacy and unleashing a glut of questionable information that functions, somewhat unexpectedly, as its own form of censorship, rather than as a way to illuminate the maneuverings of the powerful."
In January 2017, the WikiLeaks Task Force, a Twitter account associated with WikiLeaks, proposed the creation of a database to track verified Twitter users, including sensitive personal information on individuals' homes, families and finances. According to the Chicago Tribune, "the proposal faced a sharp and swift backlash as technologists, journalists and security researchers slammed the idea as a 'sinister' and dangerous abuse of power and privacy." Twitter furthermore bans the use of Twitter data for "surveillance purposes," stating "Posting another person's private and confidential information is a violation of the Twitter rules."
Internal conflicts and lack of transparency
Within WikiLeaks, there has been public disagreement between founder and spokesperson Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the website's former German representative who was suspended by Assange. Domscheit-Berg announced on 28 September 2010 that he was leaving the organisation due to internal conflicts over management of the website.
On 25 September 2010, after being suspended by Assange for "disloyalty, insubordination and destabilisation", Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the German spokesman for WikiLeaks, told Der Spiegel that he was resigning, saying "WikiLeaks has a structural problem. I no longer want to take responsibility for it, and that's why I am leaving the project." Assange accused Domscheit-Berg of leaking information to Newsweek, with Domscheit-Berg claiming that the WikiLeaks team was unhappy with Assange's management and handling of the Afghan war document releases. Daniel Domscheit-Berg wanted greater transparency in the articles released to the public. Another vision of his was to focus on providing technology that allowed whistle-blowers to protect their identity as well as a more transparent way of communicating with the media, forming new partnerships and involving new people. Domscheit-Berg left with a small group to start OpenLeaks, a new leak organisation and website with a different management and distribution philosophy.
While leaving, Daniel Domscheit-Berg copied and then deleted roughly 3,500 unpublished documents from the WikiLeaks servers, including information on the US government's 'no-fly list' and inside information from 20 right-wing organisations, and according to a WikiLeaks statement, 5 gigabytes of data relating to Bank of America, the internal communications of 20 neo-Nazi organisations and US intercept information for "over a hundred Internet companies". Assange stated that Domscheit-Berg had deleted video files of the Granai massacre by a US Bomber. WikiLeaks had scheduled the video for publication before its deletion. In Domscheit-Berg's book he wrote: "To this day, we are waiting for Julian to restore security, so that we can return the material to him, which was on the submission platform." In August 2011, Domscheit-Berg claimed he permanently deleted the files "in order to ensure that the sources are not compromised."
Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old Icelandic university student, resigned after he challenged Assange on his decision to suspend Domscheit-Berg and was bluntly rebuked. Iceland MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir also left WikiLeaks, citing lack of transparency, lack of structure, and poor communication flow in the organisation. According to the British newspaper, The Independent, at least a dozen key supporters of WikiLeaks left the website during 2010.
Those working for WikiLeaks are reportedly required to sign sweeping non-disclosure agreements covering all conversations, conduct, and material, with Assange having sole power over disclosure. The penalty for non-compliance in one such agreement was reportedly £12 million. WikiLeaks has been challenged for this practice, as it is seen to be hypocritical for an organisation dedicated to transparency to limit the transparency of its inner workings and limit the accountability of powerful individuals in the organisation.
Main article: Reception of WikiLeaks
Awards and praise
WikiLeaks won a number of awards in its early years, including The Economist's New Media Award in 2008 at the Index on Censorship Awards and Amnesty International's UK Media Award in 2009. In 2010, the New York Daily News listed WikiLeaks first among websites "that could totally change the news". Julian Assange received the 2010 Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence for releasing secret U.S. military reports on the Iraq and Afghan wars and was named the Readers' Choice for TIME's Person of the Year in 2010. The UK Information Commissioner has stated that "WikiLeaks is part of the phenomenon of the online, empowered citizen". In 2010, an Internet petition in support of WikiLeaks attracted more than six hundred thousand signatures.
Support for good use of free speech
Members of the media and academia commended WikiLeaks during its early years for exposing state and corporate secrets, increasing transparency, assisting freedom of the press, and enhancing democratic discourse while challenging powerful institutions. In 2010, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the "cyber war" being led at the time against WikiLeaks, and in a joint statement with the Organization of American States the UN Special Rapporteur called on states and other people to keep international legal principles in mind.
Public positions taken by politicians concerning WikiLeaks
In 2010, after WikiLeaks' release of classified U.S. government documents leaked by Chelsea Manning, then U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden likened Julian Assange to a "high-tech terrorist," stating that he had put people's lives in danger.
Several Republicans who had once been highly critical of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange began to speak fondly of him after WikiLeaks published the DNC leaks and started to regularly criticise Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.
3. Remove traces of your submission
If you are a high-risk source and the computer you prepared your submission on, or uploaded it from, could subsequently be audited in an investigation, we recommend that you format and dispose of the computer hard drive and any other storage media you used.
In particular, hard drives retain data after formatting which may be visible to a digital forensics team and flash media (USB sticks, memory cards and SSD drives) retain data even after a secure erasure. If you used flash media to store sensitive data, it is important to destroy the media.
If you do this and are a high-risk source you should make sure there are no traces of the clean-up, since such traces themselves may draw suspicion.
4. If you face legal action
If a legal action is brought against you as a result of your submission, there are organisations that may help you. The Courage Foundation is an international organisation dedicated to the protection of journalistic sources. You can find more details at https://www.couragefound.org.
Online publisher WikiLeaks is alleged to have “leaked all their files” including one relating to a motion that was rejected for debate by Brighton and Hove City Council.
While there are doubts that there has been a fresh “data dump”, scores of files and an index have been circulating widely as a result of the claims.
One of them is a note by former Green councillor Keith Taylor in January 2009 before he became a Member of the European Parliament (MEP).
It was handwritten under a draft “notice of motion” submitted to the council for debate.
The motion referred to the EDO factory in Brighton and claims that parts made there were being used in aircraft used by Israel to bomb Palestinians.
Mr Taylor wrote: “I’m sorry to say this motion will not be allowed on to the agenda.
“The reason given was that the issue is not directly related to Brighton and has no bearing on the ‘wellbeing’ of the city.
He added: “We will be press releasing this refusal.”
The draft motion, headed “Gaza Strip”, said: “This council shares the distress and outrage felt by many residents over the deaths and injuries caused by the military action in Gaza and supports the call of several recent local demonstrations for an immediate ceasefire by all involved parties.
“This council also notes with concern evidence which suggests that a Brighton-based company EDO-MBM Technology Ltd (now trading as EDO-ITT) is producing and supplying bomb release mechanisms for the F16 Lockheed Martin jet fighter/bomber.
“This council further notes that the F16 jet fighter/bomber is the mainstay of the Israelie Air Force which is reported to have 362 operative F16s.
“At the time of drafting this resolution the Israeli campaign has killed at least 977 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, many of them women and children. In addition, some 4,500 Palestinians have been wounded.
- deplores the production of military components for use by countries involved in violent conflict and the presence of any such activities within the city
- implores EDO-ITT to ensure all of its local production facilities are employed in the manufacture of non-military/weapon components only
- instructs the chief executive to communicate our requests to EDO-ITT, reporting back progress to council.”
The claims of a data dump have been circulating as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange waits to learn whether he will be extradited to America. A ruling is due next week.
Fact Check: Did Wikileaks really ‘dump all their files online’ as being claimed on social media? Here are the facts
There is a claim on social media platform Twitter which says that Wikileaks has “leaked all their files” and dumped thousands of files on its website. The leaked files are claimed to contain explosive revelations about Steve Jobs, ‘PedoPodesta’ (likely refers to close Clinton aide John Podesta), Afghanistan, Syria and other fiery issues. However, the files contained in the leak are nothing new and there has been no such leak as of now.
There is no announcement on the official Twitter handle of Wikileaks confirming any of these claims. Usually, after any new data dump, the website makes an announcement on social media. There has been none so far. Its recent social media activity has concerned the health and well-being of its currently imprisoned founder, Julian Assange, who is being punished for embarrassing western governments.
Furthermore, a quick search on Twitter revealed that the same claims with the exact same language has surfaced again and again on social media during the course of this year in various months.
Thus, we have tweets with the same text being circulated in April, June, November and now December. Additionally, there has been no confirmation from Wikileaks recently that they have dumped any files online.
Furthermore, the link has been available all this time as well and users could browse through the files earlier as well. Thus, it appears to be a false alarm. Nonetheless, there are thousands of files available for browsing and there are sure to be some pretty interesting information available in them.
2020 dump wikileaks data
For the past year, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has sat in a London jail awaiting extradition to the US. This week, the US Justice Department piled on yet more hacking conspiracy allegations against him, all related to his decade-plus at the helm of an organization that exposed reams of government and corporate secrets to the public. But in Assange's absence, another group has picked up where WikiLeaks left off—and is also picking new fights.
For roughly the past year and a half, a small group of activists known as Distributed Denial of Secrets, or DDoSecrets, has quietly but steadily released a stream of hacked and leaked documents, from Russian oligarchs' emails to the stolen communications of Chilean military leaders to shell company databases. Late last week, the group unleashed its most high-profile leak yet: BlueLeaks, a 269-gigabyte collection of more than a million police files provided to DDoSecrets by a source aligned with the hacktivist group Anonymous, spanning emails, audio files, and interagency memos largely pulled from law enforcement "fusion centers," which serve as intelligence-sharing hubs. According to DDoSecrets, it represents the largest-ever release of hacked US police data. It may put DDoSecrets on the map as the heir to WikiLeaks' mission—or at least the one it adhered to in its earlier, more idealistic years—and the inheritor of its never-ending battles against critics and censors.
"Our role is to archive and publish leaked and hacked data of potential public interest," writes the group's cofounder, Emma Best, a longtime transparency activist, in a text message interview with WIRED. "We want to inspire people to come forward, and release accurate information regardless of its source."
In another message, Best sums up that mission in a Latin phrase that better captures the adversarial nature—and inherent controversy—of DDoSecrets' work: "Veritatem cognoscere ruat cælum et pereat mundus." Best translates the slogan to, "Know the truth, though the heavens may fall and the world burn."
For DDoSecrets, the firefight has already started. On Tuesday evening, as media attention grew around the BlueLeaks release, Twitter banned the group's account, citing a policy that it doesn't allow the publication of hacked information. The company followed up with an even more drastic step, removing tweets that link to the DDoSecrets website, which maintains a searchable database of all of its leaks, and suspending some accounts retroactively for linking to the group's material.
Best says DDoSecrets, an organization with no address and whose shoestring budget runs mostly on donations, is still strategizing a response and the best workaround to publicize its leaks—potentially shifting to Telegram or Reddit—but has no intention of letting the ban halt its work. "'Too dangerous for Twitter' is some Nixonian shit I didn't expect," Best says.
"They remind me of the people who were risking a lot for WikiLeaks back in the day."
Birgitta Jonsdottir, DDoSecrets adviser
From the start, DDoSecrets has distinguished itself by its willingness to publish not just the same sort of raw leaks and hacked files that WikiLeaks published for years, but also some that even WikiLeaks refused to. The group's first major release after its founding in late 2018 was a 175-gigabyte cache of Russian emails that included a collection of Russian political leaders' and oligarchs' communications, from the Russian interior ministry to arms exporter Rosoboronexport, provided by the Russian hacktivist group Sholtai Boltai along with other unknown sources.
WikiLeaks had obtained but declined to publish some of the same documents, Foreign Policy revealed in 2017, stating that it "rejects submissions that have already been published elsewhere or which are likely to be considered insignificant." But when DDoSecrets published the full Russian collection in early 2019, The New York Times covered the document dump as a kind of counterblow to the Kremlin's hacking and leaking operations that targeted the 2016 election.
Six months later, DDoSecrets returned with what it called #29 Leaks, a collection of 15 years of hacked emails from Formations House, a London financial firm involved in the creation of shell companies. Those shell companies had been tied to allegations of money laundering, including by arms dealers, car smugglers, and the ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.
A few months after that, the pseudonymous hacktivist Phineas Fisher revealed that they had broken into the network of the Cayman National Bank and Trust, another player in the world of offshore banking. Fisher gave the resulting 2-terabyte trove of stolen data to DDoSecrets. The filesrevealed, among other things, how the former head of Azerbaijan's national security agency allegedly used embezzled funds to buy UK properties. DDoSecrets' Best says that journalists are still digging into the massive data set today.
With BlueLeaks, however, DDoSecrets has, for the first time, published a major leak of files from US organizations, raising the stakes. Activists and journalists combing through the files immediately found evidence that the FBI had monitored the social accounts of protesters on behalf of local law enforcement and tracked bitcoin donations to protest groups. The leak also includes personally identifiable information about police officers and even banking details—though Best says BlueLeaks tried to redact all identifiable victim information—which has fueled controversy around the publication and no doubt contributed to the group's Twitter ban. (Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.) "The public has an interest in the identities of public servants," Best writes.
That red-hot disclosure, perfectly timed to follow the global protests in the wake of police killing of George Floyd, shows how the organization is coming into its own, says Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former member of WikiLeaks and the Icelandic parliament who now serves as an adviser to DDoSecrets. "They remind me of the people who were risking a lot for WikiLeaks back in the day," Jonsdottir says. "There’s been a vacuum for a long time. So I’m just glad this is taking off, with this very important leak at this time."
"Valid information is valid regardless of the source."
Emma Best, DDoSecrets
But Best, who identifies with the pronouns they/them, says that DDoSecrets has learned from WikiLeaks' mistakes as well as its successes. Best has collaborated with WikiLeaks in the past—the relationship was complicated; Best later published a trove of the group's own leaked chats in 2018—and points to a long list of what they see as WikiLeaks' missteps: publishing materials without a source's permission, as they found to be the case of the leak of emails from the Turkish government's ruling party; inexplicably declining to publish leaked files, as with the Russia dump that DDoSecrets later published; or adding unnecessary editorial spin to documents, as they argue WikiLeaks did with the Vault7 leak of CIA secrets.
Best also faults Assange specifically for trying to hide the fact that certain documents are provided by state-sponsored hackers, as when he intimated that the documents take from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Campaign might have come from murdered Clinton staffer Seth Rich. In fact, Russian military intelligence hackers stole the documents and provided them to WikiLeaks. DDoSecrets, Best says, won't shy away from publishing files stolen by state-sponsored hackers if they're of real public interest. But those documents will be clearly labeled as coming from state-sponsored hackers when DDoSecrets can determine as much, they say, and will be kept on a portion of the site devoted to the spoils of government hacking. "Valid information is valid regardless of the source," Best says. "But the source is important context."
DDoSecrets is also taking a very different tack from WikiLeaks in protecting the anonymity of sources. It doesn't host a WikiLeaks-style submission system on a server protected by the anonymity software Tor, as WikiLeaks and most other leaking sites have done. Best says they don't actually believe that DDoSecrets, an organization without a physical presence or a headquarters, could sufficiently protect a physical server running an anonymous submission system such as SecureDrop. Instead, the group simply provides a list of security tool recommendations to sources like Tor and the anonymous, ephemeral operating system Tails, as well as variety of means to reach them via an encrypted message.
The approach hints that the group sees principled hackers as its core sources rather than non-technical leakers or whistleblowers inside of companies, says Gabriella Coleman, a hacker-focused anthropologist at McGill University who wrote a seminal book on the hacktivist group Anonymous and is friendly with some of DDoSecrets' staff. The group's name, a reference to the cybersecurity term "distributed denial of service," and its relationship with Phineas Fisher further suggests an intended audience of hackers. "Using a name like that, it’s signaling a certain message to the hacker and hacktivist world, where they have certain relationships," says Coleman. "They're happy to accept leaks from whistleblowers, but they come from the hacker world. They're going to be very well positioned to take leaks from more progressive hackers." (Best declined to comment on the group's sources, or what fraction are insider leakers versus outside hackers.)
Perhaps most importantly, Best says DDoSecrets wants to avoid the cult of personality that formed around Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks leader had exerted near-monarchic rule before being indicted for computer hacking conspiracy and arrested in London's Ecuadorean embassy, where he had sought asylum, last spring. Best says DDoSecrets is moving toward a "co-op" model with a "horizontal structure" of leadership, with no single person in charge of the group's direction.
Former WikiLeaker Jonsdottir, who has both criticized Assange and called for support for him after his arrest, believes this time will be different. "I don’t see anyone in the organization that can be made into the stories we had about Assange, a mysterious superhero," Jonsdottir says. "Like Tina Turner said, we don’t need another hero."
The Twitter ban following its BlueLeaks publication represents a setback for the group. But Jonsdottir says it also shows the importance of the work they're doing. "They will definitely rise above this," Jonsdottir says. "Somebody trusted them with a massive leak at a critical time. And I’m excited to see if it will help spawn more like it."
More Great WIRED Stories
List of material published by WikiLeaks
Wikimedia list article
Since 2006, the document archive website WikiLeaks has published anonymous submissions of documents that are typically unavailable to the general public.
Apparent Somali assassination order
WikiLeaks posted its first document in December 2006, a decision to assassinate government officials, signed by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.The New Yorker has reported that
[Julian] Assange and the others were uncertain of its authenticity, but they thought that readers, using Wikipedia-like features of the site, would help analyze it. They published the decision with a lengthy commentary, which asked, "Is it a bold manifesto by a flamboyant Islamic militant with links to Bin Laden? Or is it a clever smear by US intelligence, designed to discredit the Union, fracture Somali alliances and manipulate China?" ... The document's authenticity was never determined, and news about WikiLeaks quickly superseded the leak itself.
Daniel arap Moi family corruption
On 31 August 2007, The Guardian featured on its front page a story about corruption by the family of the former Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi. The newspaper stated that the source of the information was WikiLeaks.
Northern Rock Bank
In 2007, the bank Northern Rock suffered a crisis and was propped up by an emergency loan by the Bank of England. During the crisis, a judge banned the media from publishing a sales prospectus which Northern Rock had issued. Wikileaks hosted a copy of the prospectus and letters from lawyers Schillings warning against the publication of the prospectus.
Bank Julius Baer lawsuit
Main article: Bank Julius Baer vs. Wikileaks lawsuit
In February 2008, the wikileaks.org domain name was taken offline after the Swiss Bank Julius Baer sued WikiLeaks and the wikileaks.org domain registrar, Dynadot, in a court in California, United States, and obtained a permanent injunction ordering the shutdown. WikiLeaks had hosted allegations of illegal activities at the bank's Cayman Islands branch. WikiLeaks' U.S. Registrar, Dynadot, complied with the order by removing its DNS entries. However, the website remained accessible via its numeric IP address, and online activists immediately mirrored WikiLeaks at dozens of alternative websites worldwide.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a motion protesting the censorship of WikiLeaks. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press assembled a coalition of media and press that filed an amicus curiae brief on WikiLeaks' behalf. The coalition included major U.S. newspaper publishers and press organisations, such as the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press, the Citizen Media Law Project, the E. W. Scripps Company, the Gannett Company, the Hearst Corporation, the Los Angeles Times, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Newspaper Association of America and the Society of Professional Journalists. The coalition requested to be heard as a friend of the court to call attention to relevant points of law that it believed the court had overlooked (on the grounds that WikiLeaks had not appeared in court to defend itself, and that no First Amendment issues had yet been raised before the court). Amongst other things, the coalition argued that:
WikiLeaks provides a forum for dissidents and whistleblowers across the globe to post documents, but the Dynadot injunction imposes a prior restraint that drastically curtails access to Wikileaks from the Internet based on a limited number of postings challenged by Plaintiffs. The Dynadot injunction therefore violates the bedrock principle that an injunction cannot enjoin all communication by a publisher or other speaker.
The same judge, Jeffrey White, who issued the injunction vacated it on 29 February 2008, citing First Amendment concerns and questions about legal jurisdiction. WikiLeaks was thus able to bring its site online again. The bank dropped the case on 5 March 2008. The judge also denied the bank's request for an order prohibiting the website's publication.
The executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Lucy Dalglish, commented:
It's not very often a federal judge does a 180 degree turn in a case and dissolves an order. But we're very pleased the judge recognized the constitutional implications in this prior restraint.
Guantanamo Bay procedures
A copy of Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta–the protocol of the U.S. Army at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp–dated March 2003 was released on the WikiLeaks website on 7 November 2007. The document, named "gitmo-sop.pdf", is also mirrored at The Guardian. Its release revealed some of the restrictions placed over detainees at the camp, including the designation of some prisoners as off-limits to the International Committee of the Red Cross, something that the U.S. military had in the past repeatedly denied. It also showed that military dogs are used to intimidate prisoners, that children as young as 15 are held at Guantanamo and that new prisoners are held in isolation for two weeks to make them more pliable. The Guantánamo Bay Manual included procedures for transferring prisoners and methods of evading protocols of the Geneva convention.
On 3 December 2007, WikiLeaks released a copy of the 2004 edition of the manual, together with a detailed analysis of the changes.
Tibetan dissent in China
On 24 March 2008, WikiLeaks made 35 uncensored videos of civil unrest in Tibet available for viewing, to get around official Chinese censorship during the worst of the unrest.
On 24 March 2008, WikiLeaks published what they referred to as "the collected secret 'bibles' of Scientology". On 7 April 2008, they reported receiving a letter (dated 27 March) from the Religious Technology Center claiming ownership of the several documents pertaining to OT Levels within the Church of Scientology. These same documents were at the center of a 1994 scandal. The email stated:
The Advanced Technology materials are unpublished, copyrighted works. Please be advised that your customer's action in this regard violates United States copyright law. Accordingly, we ask for your help in removing these works immediately from your service.
— Moxon & Kobrin
The letter continued on to request the release of the logs of the uploader, which would remove their anonymity. WikiLeaks responded with a statement released on Wikinews stating: "in response to the attempted suppression, WikiLeaks will release several thousand additional pages of Scientology material next week", and did so.
Sarah Palin's Yahoo! email account contents
Main article: Sarah Palin email hack
In September 2008, during the 2008 United States presidential election campaigns, the contents of a Yahoo! account belonging to Sarah Palin (the running mate of Republican presidential nominee John McCain) were posted on WikiLeaks after being hacked into by members of Anonymous. It has been alleged by Wired that contents of the mailbox indicate that she used the private Yahoo! account to send work-related messages, in violation of public record laws. The hacking of the account was widely reported in mainstream news outlets. Although WikiLeaks was able to conceal the hacker's identity, the source of the Palin emails was eventually publicly identified as David Kernell, a 20-year-old economics student at the University of Tennessee and the son of Democratic Tennessee State Representative Mike Kernell from Memphis, whose email address (as listed on various social networking sites) was linked to the hacker's identity on Anonymous. Kernell attempted to conceal his identity by using the anonymous proxy service ctunnel.com, but, because of the illegal nature of the access, ctunnel website administrator Gabriel Ramuglia assisted the FBI in tracking down the source of the hack.
Killings by the Kenyan police
WikiLeaks publicised reports on extrajudicial executions by Kenyan police for one week starting 1 November 2008 on its home page. Two of the human rights investigators involved, Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulu, who made major contributions to a Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) report that was redistributed by WikiLeaks, The Cry of Blood – Report on Extra-Judicial Killings and Disappearances, were assassinated several months later, on 5 March 2009. WikiLeaks called for information on the assassination. In 2009, Amnesty International UK gave WikiLeaks and Julian Assange an award for the distribution of the KNCHR's The Cry of Blood report.
BNP membership list
After briefly appearing on a blog, the membership list of the far-right British National Party was posted to WikiLeaks on 18 November 2008. The name, address, age and occupation of many of the 13,500 members were given, including several police officers, two solicitors, four ministers of religion, at least one doctor, and a number of primary and secondary school teachers. In Britain, police officers are banned from joining or promoting the BNP, and at least one officer was dismissed for being a member. The BNP was known for going to considerable lengths to conceal the identities of members. On 19 November, BNP leader Nick Griffin stated that he knew the identity of the person who initially leaked the list on 17 November, describing him as a "hardliner" senior employee who left the party in 2007. On 20 October 2009, a list of BNP members from April 2009 was leaked. This list contained 11,811 members.
Congressional Research Service reports
On 7 February 2009, WikiLeaks released 6,780 Congressional Research Service reports.
Contributors to Coleman campaign
In March 2009, WikiLeaks published a list of contributors to the Norm Coleman senatorial campaign.
Main article: Climatic Research Unit email controversy
In November 2009, controversial documents, including e-mail correspondence between climate scientists, were released (allegedly after being illegally obtained) from the University of East Anglia's (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU). According to the university, the emails and documents were obtained through a server hacking; one prominent host of the full 120 MB archive was WikiLeaks.
Barclays Bank tax avoidance
In March 2009 documents concerning complex arrangements made by Barclays Bank to avoid tax appeared on Wikileaks. The documents had been ordered to be removed from the website of The Guardian. In an editorial on the issue, The Guardian pointed out that, due to the mismatch of resources, tax collectors (HMRC) now have to rely on websites such as Wikileaks to obtain such documents.
Internet censorship lists
WikiLeaks has published the lists of forbidden or illegal web addresses for several countries.
On 19 March 2009, WikiLeaks published what was alleged to be the Australian Communications and Media Authority's blacklist of sites to be banned under Australia's proposed laws on Internet censorship. Reactions to the publication of the list by the Australian media and politicians were varied. Particular note was made by journalistic outlets of the type of websites on the list; while the Internet censorship scheme submitted by the Australian Labor Party in 2008 was proposed with the stated intention of preventing access to child pornography and sites related to terrorism, the list leaked on WikiLeaks contains a number of sites unrelated to sex crimes involving minors. When questioned about the leak, Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in Australia's Rudd Labor Government, responded by claiming that the list was not the actual list, yet threatening to prosecute anyone involved in distributing it. On 20 March 2009, WikiLeaks published an updated list, dated 18 March 2009; it more closely matches the claimed size of the ACMA blacklist, and contains two pages that have been independently confirmed as blacklisted by ACMA.
WikiLeaks also contains details of Internet censorship in Thailand, including lists of censored sites dating back to May 2006.
Wikileaks published a list of web sites blacklisted by Denmark.
Bilderberg Group meeting reports
Since May 2009, WikiLeaks has made available reports of several meetings of the Bilderberg Group. It includes the group's history and meeting reports from the years 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1980.
2008 Peru oil scandal
On 28 January 2009, WikiLeaks released 86 telephone intercept recordings of Peruvian politicians and businessmen involved in the "Petrogate" oil scandal. The release of the tapes featured on the front pages of five Peruvian newspapers.
Nuclear accident in Iran
On 16 July 2009, Iranian news agencies reported that the head of Iran's atomic energy organization Gholam Reza Aghazadeh had abruptly resigned for unknown reasons after twelve years in office. Shortly afterwards WikiLeaks released a report disclosing a "serious nuclear accident" at the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility in 2009. The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) released statistics that say the number of enriched centrifuges operational in Iran mysteriously declined from about 4,700 to about 3,900 beginning around the time the nuclear incident WikiLeaks mentioned would have occurred.
According to media reports the accident may have been the direct result of a cyberattack at Iran's nuclear program, carried out with the Stuxnet computer worm.
Toxic dumping in Africa: The Minton report
In September 2006, commodities giant Trafigura commissioned an internal report about a toxic dumping incident in the Ivory Coast, which (according to the United Nations) affected 108,000 people. The document, called the Minton Report, names various harmful chemicals "likely to be present" in the waste and notes that some of them "may cause harm at some distance". The report states that potential health effects include "burns to the skin, eyes and lungs, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness and death", and suggests that the high number of reported casualties is "consistent with there having been a significant release of hydrogen sulphide gas".
On 11 September 2009, Trafigura's lawyers, Carter-Ruck, obtained a secret "super-injunction" against The Guardian, banning that newspaper from publishing the contents of the document. Trafigura also threatened a number of other media organizations with legal action if they published the report's contents, including the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and The Chemical Engineer magazine. On 14 September 2009, WikiLeaks posted the report.
On 12 October, Carter-Ruck warned The Guardian against mentioning the content of a parliamentary question that was due to be asked about the report. Instead, the paper published an article stating that they were unable to report on an unspecified question and claiming that the situation appeared to "call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1689 Bill of Rights". The suppressed details rapidly circulated via the internet and Twitter and, amid uproar, Carter-Ruck agreed the next day to the modification of the injunction before it was challenged in court, permitting The Guardian to reveal the existence of the question and the injunction. The injunction was lifted on 16 October.
WikiLeaks made available an internal document from Kaupthing Bank from just prior to the collapse of Iceland's banking sector, which led to the 2008–2012 Icelandic financial crisis. The document shows that suspiciously large sums of money were loaned to various owners of the bank, and large debts written off. Kaupthing's lawyers have threatened WikiLeaks with legal action, citing banking privacy laws. The leak has caused an uproar in Iceland. Criminal charges relating to the multibillion-euro loans to Exista and other major shareholders are being investigated. The bank is seeking to recover loans taken out by former bank employees before its collapse.
Joint Services Protocol 440
In October 2009, Joint Services Protocol 440, a 2,400-page restricted document written in 2001 by the British Ministry of Defence was leaked. It contained instructions for the security services on how to avoid leaks of information by hackers, journalists, and foreign spies.
On 25 November 2009, WikiLeaks released 570,000 intercepts of pager messages sent on the day of the September 11 attacks. Chelsea Manning (see below) commented that those were from an NSA database. Among the released messages are communications between Pentagon officials and New York City Police Department.
U.S. Intelligence report on WikiLeaks
On 15 March 2010, WikiLeaks released a secret 32-page U.S. Department of Defense Counterintelligence Analysis Report from March 2008. The document described some prominent reports leaked on the website. These related to U.S. security interests, and described potential methods of marginalizing the organization. WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said that some details in the Army report were inaccurate and its recommendations flawed, and also that the concerns of the U.S. Army raised by the report were hypothetical. The report discussed deterring potential whistleblowers via termination of employment and criminal prosecution of any existing or former insiders, leakers or whistleblowers. Reasons for the report include notable leaks such as U.S. equipment expenditure, human rights violations in Guantanamo Bay, and the battle over the Iraqi town of Fallujah.
Baghdad airstrike video
Main article: 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrike
On 5 April 2010, WikiLeaks released classified U.S. military footage from a series of attacks on 12 July 2007 in Baghdad by a U.S. helicopter that killed 12–18 people, including two Reuters news staff, Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen, on a website called "Collateral Murder". The attack also wounded others including two children who were in a van that was fired on when it came to collect the wounded men. The footage consisted of a 39-minute unedited version and an 18-minute version that had been edited and annotated. According to some media reports, the Reuters news staff were in the company of armed men and the pilots may have thought Chmagh and Noor-Eldeen were carrying weapons (which was actually camera equipment). The footage includes audio from the American pilots during the shooting. After wounding two children one pilot says "Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle". The military conducted an investigation into the incident and found there were two rocket propelled grenade launchers and one AK-47 among the dead.
In the week following the release, "Wikileaks" was the search term with the most significant growth worldwide in the last seven days as measured by Google Insights.
Main article: Chelsea Manning
A 22-year-old US Armyintelligence analyst, PFC (formerly SPC) Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning), was arrested after alleged chat logs were turned in to the authorities by former hacker Adrian Lamo, in whom she had confided. Manning reportedly told Lamo she had leaked the Baghdad airstrike video, in addition to a video of the Granai airstrike and around 260,000 diplomatic cables, to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks said "allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect." WikiLeaks have said that they are unable as yet to confirm whether or not Manning was actually the source of the video, stating "we never collect personal information on our sources", but that they have nonetheless "taken steps to arrange for (Manning's) protection and legal defence." On 21 June Julian Assange told The Guardian that WikiLeaks had hired three US criminal lawyers to defend Manning but that they had not been given access to her.
On 28 February 2013, Manning confessed in open court to providing vast archives of military and diplomatic files to WikiLeaks. She pleaded guilty to 10 criminal counts in connection with the huge amount of material she leaked, which included videos of airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan in which civilians were killed, logs of military incident reports, assessment files of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and a quarter-million cables from American diplomats stationed around the world. She read a statement recounting how she joined the military, became an intelligence analyst in Iraq, decided that certain files should become known to the American public to prompt a wider debate about foreign policy, downloaded them from a secure computer network and then ultimately uploaded them to WikiLeaks.
Manning reportedly wrote, "Everywhere there's a U.S. post, there's a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed." According to The Washington Post, she also described the cables as "explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective."
Afghan War Diary
Main article: Afghan War documents leak
On 25 July 2010, WikiLeaks released to The Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel over 92,000 documents related to the war in Afghanistan between 2004 and the end of 2009. The documents detail individual incidents including friendly fire and civilian casualties. The scale of the leak was described by Julian Assange as comparable to that of the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s. The documents were released to the public on 25 July 2010. On 29 July 2010 WikiLeaks added a 1.4 GB "insurance file" to the Afghan War Diary page, whose decryption details would be released if WikiLeaks or Assange were harmed.
About 15,000 of the 92,000 documents have not yet been released on WikiLeaks, as the group is currently reviewing the documents to remove some of the sources of the information. Speaking to a group in London in August 2010, Assange said that the group will "absolutely" release the remaining documents. He stated that WikiLeaks has requested help from the Pentagon and human-rights groups to help redact the names, but has not received any assistance. He also stated that WikiLeaks is "not obligated to protect other people's sources...unless it is from unjust retribution."
According to a report on the Daily Beast website, the Obama administration has asked Britain, Germany and Australia among others to consider bringing criminal charges against Assange for the Afghan war leaks and to help limit Assange's travels across international borders. In the United States, a joint investigation by the Army and the Federal Bureau of Investigation may try to prosecute "Mr. Assange and others involved on grounds they encouraged the theft of government property".
The Australia Defence Association (ADA) stated that WikiLeaks' Julian Assange "could have committed a serious criminal offence in helping an enemy of the Australian Defence Force (ADF)." Neil James, the executive director of ADA, states: "Put bluntly, Wikileaks is not authorised in international or Australian law, nor equipped morally or operationally, to judge whether open publication of such material risks the safety, security, morale and legitimate objectives of Australian and allied troops fighting in a UN-endorsed military operation."
WikiLeaks' recent leaking of classified U.S. intelligence has been described by commentator of The Wall Street Journal as having "endangered the lives of Afghan informants" and "the dozens of Afghan civilians named in the document dump as U.S. military informants. Their lives, as well as those of their entire families, are now at terrible risk of Taliban reprisal." When interviewed, Assange stated that WikiLeaks has withheld some 15,000 documents that identify informants to avoid putting their lives at risk. Specifically, Voice of America reported in August 2010 that Assange, responding to such criticisms, stated that the 15,000 still held documents are being reviewed "line by line," and that the names of "innocent parties who are under reasonable threat" will be removed.Greg Gutfeld of Fox News described the leaking as "WikiLeaks' Crusade Against the U.S. Military."John Pilger has reported that prior to the release of the Afghan War Diaries in July, WikiLeaks contacted the White House in writing, asking that it identify names that might draw reprisals, but received no response.
According to the New York Times, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders criticized WikiLeaks for what they saw as risking people's lives by identifying Afghans acting as informers. A Taliban spokesman said that the Taliban had formed a nine-member "commission" to review the documents "to find about people who are spying." He said the Taliban had a "wanted" list of 1,800 Afghans and was comparing that with names WikiLeaks provided, stating "after the process is completed, our Taliban court will decide about such people."
Love Parade documents
Following the Love Parade stampede in Duisburg, Germany on 24 July 2010, the local news blog Xtranews published internal documents of the city administration regarding Love Parade planning and actions by the authorities. The city government reacted by acquiring a court order on 16 August forcing Xtranews to remove the documents from its blog. Two days later, however, after the documents had surfaced on other websites as well, the government stated that it would not conduct any further legal actions against the publication of the documents. On 20 August WikiLeaks released a publication titled Loveparade 2010 Duisburg planning documents, 2007–2010, which comprised 43 internal documents regarding the Love Parade 2010.
Iraq War logs
Main article: Iraq War documents leak
In October 2010, it was reported that WikiLeaks was planning to release up to 400,000 documents relating to the Iraq War. Julian Assange initially denied the reports, stating: "WikiLeaks does not speak about upcoming releases dates, indeed, with very rare exceptions we do not communicate any specific information about upcoming releases, since that simply provides fodder for abusive organizations to get their spin machines ready."The Guardian reported on 21 October 2010 that it had received almost 400,000 Iraq war documents from WikiLeaks. On 22 October 2010, Al Jazeera was the first to release analyses of the leak, dubbed The War Logs. WikiLeaks posted a tweet that "Al Jazeera have broken our embargo by 30 minutes. We release everyone from their Iraq War Logs embargoes." This prompted other news organizations to release their articles based on the source material. The release of the documents coincided with a return of the main wikileaks.org website, which had been offering no content since 30 September 2010.
The BBC quoted The Pentagon referring to the Iraq War Logs as "the largest leak of classified documents in its history." Media coverage of the leaked documents focused on claims that the U.S. government had ignored reports of torture by the Iraqi authorities after the 2003 war.
State Department diplomatic cables release
Main article: United States diplomatic cables leak
On 22 November 2010 an announcement was made by the WikiLeaks Twitter feed that the next release would be "7x the size of the Iraq War Logs." U.S. authorities and the media speculated that they contained diplomatic cables. Prior to the expected leak, the government of the United Kingdom (UK) sent a DA-Notice to UK newspapers, which requests advance notice from the newspapers regarding the expected publication. According to Index on Censorship, "there is no obligation on media to comply". "Newspaper editors would speak to [the] Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee prior to publication." The Pakistani newspaper Dawn stated that the U.S. newspapers The New York Times and The Washington Post were expected to publish parts of the diplomatic cables on Sunday 28 November, including 94 Pakistan-related documents.
On 26 November, via his lawyer Jennifer Robinson, Assange sent a letter to the US Department of State, asking for information regarding people who could be placed at "significant risk of harm" by the diplomatic cables release.Harold Koh, Legal Adviser of the Department of State, refused the proposal, stating, "We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials."
On 28 November, WikiLeaks announced it was undergoing a massive distributed denial-of-service attack, but vowed to still leak the cables and documents via prominent media outlets including El País, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and The New York Times. The announcement was shortly thereafter followed by the online publication, by The Guardian, of some of the purported diplomatic cables, including one in which United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apparently orders diplomats to obtain credit card and frequent flier numbers of the French, British, Russian and Chinese delegations to the United Nations Security Council. Other revelations reportedly include that several Arab nations urged the U.S. to launch a first strike on Iran, that the Chinese government was directly involved in computer hacking, and that the U.S. is pressuring Pakistan to turn over nuclear material to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. The cables also include unflattering appraisals of world leaders.
In December 2010, Der Spiegel reported that one of the cables showed that the US had placed pressure on Germany not to pursue the 13 suspected CIA agents involved in the 2003 abduction of Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen. The abduction was probably carried out through "extraordinary rendition". German prosecutors in Munich had issued arrest warrants for the 13 suspected CIA operatives involved in the abduction. The cables released by Wikileaks showed that after contact from the then-Deputy US Ambassador John M. Koenig and US diplomats the Munich public prosecutor's office and Germany's Justice Ministry and Foreign Ministry all cooperated with the US and the agents were not extradited to Germany.
Despite the steps taken by United States Government forbidding all unauthorized federal government employees and contractors from accessing classified documents publicly available on WikiLeaks, in the week following the release (28 November – 5 December 2010), "Wikileaks" remained the top search term in United States as measured by Google Insights.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to the leaks saying, "This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy; it is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conventions and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity." Julian Assange is quoted as saying, "Of course, abusive, Titanic organizations, when exposed, grasp at all sorts of ridiculous straws to try and distract the public from the true nature of the abuse."John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote a tweet saying: "The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops."
Guantanamo Bay files
Main article: Guantanamo Bay files leak
On 24 April 2011 WikiLeaks began a month-long release of 779 US Department of Defense documents about detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
The Spy Files
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2017)
On 1 December 2011 WikiLeaks started to release the Spy Files.
The Global Intelligence Files
Main article: 2012 Stratfor email leak
On 27 February 2012, WikiLeaks began to publish what it called "The Global Intelligence Files", more than 5,000,000 e-mails from Stratfor dating from July 2004 to late December 2011. It was said to show how a private intelligence agency operates and how it targets individuals for their corporate and government clients. A few days before, on 22 February, WikiLeaks had released its second insurance file via BitTorrent. The file is named "wikileaks-insurance-20120222.tar.bz2.aes" and about 65 GB in size.
Main article: Syria Files
On 5 July 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing the Syria Files, more than two million emails from Syrian political figures, ministries and associated companies, dating from August 2006 to March 2012.
In April 2013, WikiLeaks releases 1.7 million U.S. diplomatic and intelligence reports including Kissinger cables.
Prosecution and prison documents for Anakata
Released on 19 May 2013.
Spy Files 3
Wednesday 4 September 2013 at 1600 UTC, WikiLeaks released 'Spy Files #3' – 249 documents from 92 global intelligence contractors.
Draft Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement IP Charter
Draft text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Intellectual Property charter.
Trade in Services Agreement chapter draft
WikiLeaks published a secret draft of the Financial Services Annex of the Trade in Services Agreement in June 2014. On its website, the organization provided an analysis of the leaked document. TISA, an international trade deal aimed at market liberalization, covers 50 countries and 68% of the global services industry. The agreement's negotiations have been criticized for a lack of transparency.
Australian bribery case suppression order
On 29 July 2014, WikiLeaks released a secret gagging order issued by the Supreme Court of Victoria that forbid the Australian press from coverage of a multimillion-dollar bribery investigation involving the nation's central bank and several international leaders. Indonesian, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Australian government officials were named in the order, which was suppressed to "prevent damage to Australia's international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings."
Public criticism of the suppression order followed the leak. Human Rights Watch General Counsel Dinah PoKempner, said "Secret law is often unaccountable and inadequately justified. The government has some explaining to do as to why it sought such an extraordinary order, and the court should reconsider the need for it now that its action has come to light." At a media conference, Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemned the gagging order, calling for an open and transparent investigation.
TPP Investment Chapter
On 25 March 2015 WikiLeaks released the "Investment Chapter" from the secret negotiations of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) agreement.
The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states. This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies.
— Julian Assange
Main article: Sony Pictures hack
On 16 April 2015, WikiLeaks published a searchable version of the Sony Archives which were originally obtained in November 2014 by hacker group "Guardians of Peace". The leaked records contained 30,287 documents from Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and 173,132 emails between more than 2,200 SPE email addresses. SPE is a US subsidiary of the Japanese multinational technology and media corporation Sony, that handles film and TV production and distribution operations.
Containing published communications between SPE and over 100 US government email addresses, the archives revealed that the influential corporation has direct ties to the White House and the US military-industrial complex, allowing opportunities to influence laws and policies.
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said: "This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation. It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geo-political conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there."
Trident Nuclear Weapons System
Whistle blower, Royal Navy Able Seaman William McNeilly exposed serious security issues relate to the UK's nuclear weapons system.
The Saudi Cables
In June 2015 Wikileaks began publishing confidential and secret Saudi Arabian government documents. Julian Assange said that "The Saudi Cables lift the lid on a increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship that has not only celebrated its 100th beheading this year, but which has also become a menace to its neighbours and itself".
Cables from early 2013 indicate that the British government under David Cameron may have traded votes with Saudi Arabia to support each other's election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the period 2014–2016. Both Britain and Saudi Arabia joined the UNHRC in the election held in 2013. UN Watch expressed concern at the report saying that UNHRC must be chosen based on upholding the highest standards of human rights.
DNC email leak
Main article: 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak
On 22 July 2016, WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 e-mails and over 8,000 attachments from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the governing body of the U.S. Democratic Party. The leak includes emails from seven key DNC staff members, and date from January 2015 to May 2016. The collection of emails allegedly disclose the bias of key DNC staffers against the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton's campaign. WikiLeaks did not reveal their source.
Main article: Podesta emails
🪵 On 7 October 2016, WikiLeaks started releasing emails from John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. The emails provide some insight to the inner workings of Clinton's campaign. One of the emails contained 25 excerpts from Clinton's paid Wall Street speeches. Another leaked document included eighty pages of Clinton's Wall Street speeches. Also among these emails was an email from Donna Brazile to Podesta that suggested that Brazile had received a town hall debate question in advance and was sharing it with Clinton. One of the emails released on 12 October 2016 included Podesta's iCloud account password. His iCloud account was reportedly hacked, and his Twitter account was briefly compromised. Some emails from revealed emails that Barack Obama and Podesta exchanged in 2008.[clarification needed]
The Clinton campaign has declined to authenticate these leaks. Glen Caplin, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said, "By dribbling these out every day WikiLeaks is proving they are nothing but a propaganda arm of the Kremlin with a political agenda doing [Vladimir] Putin's dirty work to help elect Donald Trump." The New York Times reported that when asked, president Vladimir Putin replied that Russia was being falsely accused. Julian Assange has also denied that Russia is the source.
On 25 November 2016, WikiLeaks released emails and internal documents that provided details on the US military operations in Yemen from 2009 to March 2015. In a statement accompanying the release of the "Yemen Files", Assange said about the US involvement in the Yemen war: "The war in Yemen has produced 3.15 million internally displaced persons. Although the United States government has provided most of the bombs and is deeply involved in the conduct of the war itself reportage on the war in English is conspicuously rare".
On 28 November 2016, WikiLeaks released more than 500,000 diplomatic cables sent by the United States Department of State in 1979 during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
German BND-NSA Inquiry
On 1 December 2016, WikiLeaks released 2,420 documents which it claims are from the German Parliamentary Committee investigating the NSA spying scandal. German security officials at first suspected the documents were obtained from a 2015 cyberattack on the Bundestag, but now suspect it was an internal leak.
Turkish AK Party emails
Turkey blocked access to WikiLeaks after the website released emails from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, in response to Erdoğan’s post-coup purges against political dissent.
CIA espionage orders
On 16 February 2017, WikiLeaks released a purported report on CIA espionage orders (marked as NOFORN) for the 2012 French presidential election. The order called for details of party funding, internal rivalries and future attitudes toward the United States. The Associated Press noted that "the orders seemed to represent standard intelligence-gathering."
Main article: Vault 7
In March 2017, WikiLeaks has published more than 8,000 documents on the CIA. The confidential documents, codenamed Vault 7, dated from 2013 to 2016, included details on the CIA's software capabilities, such as the ability to compromise cars, smart TVs,web browsers (including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Opera), and the operating systems of most smartphones (including Apple's iOS and Google's Android), as well as other operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux. WikiLeaks did not name the source, but said that the files had "circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive."
Spy Files Russia
In September 2017, WikiLeaks released "Spy Files Russia," revealing "how a Saint Petersburg-based technology company called Peter-Service helped state entities gather detailed data on Russian mobile phone users, part of a national system of online surveillance called System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM)."
Main article: ICE Patrol
On 22 June 2018, Wikileaks published documents containing the personal details of many U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees with the declared aim of "understanding ICE programs and increasing accountability, especially in light of the extreme actions taken by ICE lately, such as the separation of children and parents at the US border".
Allegation of a corrupted broker in France-UAE arms deal
On 28 September 2018, WikiLeaks published information related to a dispute over a commission payment for an arms deal between a French state-owned company GIAT Industries SA (now Nexter Systems) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The deal, which was signed in 1993 and was due for completion in 2008, involved the sale by Nexter to the UAE of 46 armoured vehicles, 388 Leclerc combat tanks, 2 training tanks, spare parts and ammunition. The dispute was brought to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) by Abbas Ibrahim Yousef Al Yousef, who acted as broker between the UAE and Nexter Systems. Yousef claimed that he was paid $40 million less than the $235 million he was promised by Nexter. Nexter justified stopping payments by saying that Yousef's company, Kenoza Consulting and Management, Inc., registered in the British Virgin Islands, had committed corrupt acts by, among other things, using German engines in its tanks, which violated laws forbidding arms sales from Germany to the Middle East. Yousef claimed he had obtained a waiver from those laws using lobby groups to contact "decision makers at the highest levels, both in France and Germany". Yousef's claims against Nexter Systems were dismissed when it became known that his charge from the deal would have been much less had he been paid on retainer.
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Between October and December 2019, Wikileaks published four batches of internal documents from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons related to its investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma in April 2018.
In 2021, Wikileaks published 17,000 documents from the right-wing groups HazteOir and CitizenGo.
This article only covers a small subset of the leaked documents—those that have attracted significant attention in the mainstream press. Wikileaks has the complete list, organised by country or by year through 2010.
- In October 2009 Computer World published an interview with Assange in which he claimed to be in possession of "5GB from Bank of America" that was from "one of the executive's hard drives." In November 2010 Forbes magazine published another interview with Assange in which he said WikiLeaks was planning another "megaleak" for early in 2011, which this time would be from inside the private sector and involve "a big U.S. bank".Bank of America's stock price fell by three percent following this announcement. Assange commented on the possible impact of the release that "it could take down a bank or two." However, WikiLeaks claims that the information is among the documents that former spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg claimed to have destroyed in August 2011.
- In March 2010, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, at the time WikiLeaks' spokesperson, announced on a podcast that the organization had in its possession around 37,000 internal e-mails from far-right National Democratic Party of Germany. He stated explicitly that he was not working on this project himself because it would make him legally vulnerable as a German citizen. According to him, Wikileaks was working on a crowd sourcing-based tool to exploit such masses of data. WikiLeaks claimed that these e-mails (which it claimed numbered 60,000) were among the documents that Domscheit-Berg claimed to have destroyed in August 2011.
- In May 2010, WikiLeaks said it had video footage of an alleged massacre of Afghan civilians by the U.S. military, which it said it was preparing to release. However, this may have been among the videos that WikiLeaks reported that former spokesperson Domscheit-Berg destroyed in August 2011.
- In July 2010 during an interview with Chris Anderson, Assange showed a document WikiLeaks had on an Albanian oil well blowout, and said it also had material from inside BP, and that it was "getting [an] enormous quantity of whistle-blower disclosures of a very high caliber" but added that WikiLeaks has not been able to verify and release the material because it does not have enough volunteer journalists.
- In a September 2010 Twitter post, WikiLeaks stated that it had a first-edition copy of Operation Dark Heart, a memoir by a U.S. Army intelligence officer. The uncensored first printing of around 9,500 copies was purchased and destroyed by the U.S. Department of Defense in its entirety.
- In October 2010, Assange told a leading Moscow newspaper that "[t]he Kremlin had better brace itself for a coming wave of WikiLeaks disclosures about Russia." In late November, Assange stated, "we have material on many businesses and governments, including in Russia. It's not right to say there's going to be a particular focus on Russia". On 23 December 2010, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta announced that it had been granted access to a wide range of materials from the WikiLeaks database. The newspaper said that it will begin releasing these materials in January 2011, with an eye toward exposing corruption in the Russian government.
- In December 2010, Assange's lawyer, Mark Stephens, said on The Andrew Marr Show that WikiLeaks had information that it considers to be a "thermo-nuclear device" that it would release if the organisation needs to defend itself.
- In January 2011, Rudolf Elmer hand delivered two CDs to Assange during a news conference in London. Elmer claimed the CDs contain the names of around 2,000 tax-evading clients of the Swiss bank Julius Baer.
- In February 2011 in his memoir, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website, Daniel Domscheit-Berg acknowledged that he and another former WikiLeaks volunteer have material submitted to WikiLeaks in their possession (as well as the source code to the site's submission system) and that they would only return to the organization once it repaired its security and online infrastructure. However, in August 2011 Domscheit-Berg announced that he destroyed all 3,500 documents in his possession. The German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the documents included the U.S. government's No Fly List. WikiLeaks also claimed that the data destroyed by Domscheit-Berg included the No Fly List. This is the first mention of WikiLeaks having had possession of the No Fly List. WikiLeaks also claimed that the data destroyed included information that it had previously announced was its possession but had not released publicly. This information includes "five gigabytes from the Bank of America" (which was previously reported to be in WikiLeaks' possession in October 2009), "60,000 emails from the NPD" (which Domscheit-Berg divulged to be in Wikileaks' possession in March 2010, back when he still worked with the organization), and "videos of a major US atrocity in Afghanistan" (which perhaps include the one it claimed to have in May 2010) Additionally, WikiLeaks claimed that the documents destroyed included "the internals of around 20 neo-Nazi organizations" and "US intercept arrangements for over a hundred internet companies". Neither of these two leaks were reported to have been in WikiLeaks' possession before.
- ^ abKhatchadourian, Raffi (7 June 2010). "No Secrets: Julian Assange's Mission for total transparency". The New Yorker. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
- ^Rice, Xan (31 August 2007). "The looting of Kenya". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 February 2008.
- ^ abLeigh, David; Franklin, Jonathan (23 February 2008). "Whistle while you work". the Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
- ^Griffiths, Ian (23 November 2007). "How bidders took fright at the hole in Rock's books". the Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
- ^ ab"Wikileaks.org under injunction" (Press release). WikiLeaks. 18 February 2008. Archived from the original on 6 March 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2008.
- ^"Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd. et al. v. Wikileaks et al". News.justia.com. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
- ^ abcde"Judge reverses Wikileaks injunction". The Inquirer. 2 March 2008. Archived from the original on 3 February 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2009.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- ^Philipp Gollner (29 February 2008). "Judge reverses ruling in Julius Baer leak case". Reuters. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- ^Claburn, Thomas (6 March 2008). "Swiss Bank Abandons Lawsuit Against WikiLeaks: The wiki had posted financial documents it said proved tax evasion by Bank Julius Baer's clients". InformationWeek.
- ^"Sensitive Guantánamo Bay Manual Leaked Through Wiki Site", Wired 14 November 2007
- ^specific address at The Guardian.
- ^"Guantanamo operating manual posted on Internet". Reuters. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
- ^Singel, Ryan (14 November 2007). "SENSITIVE GUANTÁNAMO BAY MANUAL LEAKED THROUGH WIKI SITE". Wired. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
- ^"Camp Delta Operating Procedure (2004)". WikiLeaks. Archived from the original on 3 April 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
- ^"Changes in Guantanamo SOP manual (2003–2004)". WikiLeaks. Archived from the original on 4 April 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
- ^"Wikileaks defies 'great firewall of China'", The Guardian, 19 March 2008
- ^"Scientology threatens Wikileaks with injunction". The Register. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
- ^"Church of Scientology collected Operating Thetan Documents, including full text of legal letter". 4 June 2008.
- ^"Church of Scientology warns WikiLeaks over documents". Wikinews. 4 July 2008.
- ^See the article "Anonymous (Group)"
- ^Zetter, Kim (17 September 2008). "Group Posts E-Mail Hacked From Palin Account – Update". Wired.
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Andrey has a lot of acquaintances, but there is not a single friend, not a single girlfriend. He cannot trust anyone except his mother, but he pretends that all people are his brothers and sisters. Mother does not know about my existence, that is, she only knows Andrey, she is not supposed to know me.
Father bent over before defending his Ph. against a heart attack.