|URL||SaveWikiLeaks or a Twitter Search should be referred to, as other sites are taken down.
http://www.wikileaks.at formerly http://www.wikileaks.org
IP addresses: http://188.8.131.52/
See also “WikiLeaks Mirror page” links below.
|Slogan||We open governments.|
|Type of site||Document archive|
|Owner||The Sunshine Press|
|Created by||Julian Assange|
|Alexa rank||944 (December 2010[update])|
|Current status||Active (Undergoing DoS attacks and ISP rejection)|
WikiLeaks is an international new media non-profit organization that publishes submissions of otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous news sources and leaks. Its website, launched in 2006, is run by The Sunshine Press. Within a year of its launch, the site claimed a database that had grown to more than 1.2 million documents. The organization has described itself as having been founded by Chinese dissidents, as well as journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the United States, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. The Guardian newspaper describes Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, as its director.
WikiLeaks has won a number of awards, including the 2008 Economist magazine New Media Award. In June 2009, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange won Amnesty International’s UK Media Award (in the category “New Media”) for the 2008 publication of “Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances”, a report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights about police killings in Kenya. In May 2010, the New York Daily News listed WikiLeaks first in a ranking of “websites that could totally change the news”.
In April 2010, WikiLeaks posted video from a 2007 incident in which Iraqi civilians and journalists were killed by U.S. forces, on a website called Collateral Murder. In July of the same year, WikiLeaks released Afghan War Diary, a compilation of more than 76,900 documents about the War in Afghanistan not previously available for public review. In October, the group released a package of almost 400,000 documents called the Iraq War Logs in coordination with major commercial media organisations. In November 2010, WikiLeaks began releasing U.S. State department diplomatic cables.
WikiLeaks was launched as a user-editable wiki site and still uses MediaWiki as the content management system, but has progressively moved towards a more traditional publication model, and no longer accepts either user comments or edits. The site is available on multiple online servers and different domain names following a number of denial-of-service attacks and its severance from different Domain Name System (DNS) providers.
Julian Assange, the main spokesperson for WikiLeaks
The WikiLeaks website first appeared on the Internet in December 2006. The site claims to have been “founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa”. The creators of WikiLeaks have not been formally identified. It has been represented in public since January 2007 by Julian Assange and others. Assange describes himself as a member of WikiLeaks’ advisory board. News reports in The Australian have called Assange the “founder of WikiLeaks”. According to Wired magazine, a volunteer said that Assange described himself in a private conversation as “the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest”. As of June 2009, the site had over 1,200 registered volunteers and listed an advisory board comprising Assange, Phillip Adams, Wang Dan, C. J. Hinke, Ben Laurie, Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, Xiao Qiang, Chico Whitaker and Wang Youcai. Despite appearing on the list, when contacted by Mother Jones magazine in 2010, Khamsitsang said that while he received an e-mail from WikiLeaks, he had never agreed to be an advisor.
WikiLeaks states that its “primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.
In January 2007, the website stated that it had over 1.2 million leaked documents that it was preparing to publish. An article in The New Yorker said:
One of the WikiLeaks activists owned a server that was being used as a node for the Tor network. Millions of secret transmissions passed through it. The activist noticed that hackers from China were using the network to gather foreign governments’ information, and began to record this traffic. Only a small fraction has ever been posted on WikiLeaks, but the initial tranche served as the site’s foundation, and Assange was able to say, “[w]e have received over one million documents from thirteen countries.
Assange responded to the suggestion that eavesdropping on Chinese hackers played a crucial part in the early days of WikiLeaks by saying “the imputation is incorrect. The facts concern a 2006 investigation into Chinese espionage one of our contacts were involved in. Somewhere between none and handful of those documents were ever released on WikiLeaks. Non-government targets of the Chinese espionage, such as Tibetan associations were informed (by us)”. The group has subsequently released a number of other significant documents which have become front-page news items, ranging from documentation of equipment expenditures and holdings in the Afghanistan war to corruption in Kenya.
The organization’s stated goal is to ensure that whistleblowers and journalists are not jailed for emailing sensitive or classified documents, as happened to Chinese journalist Shi Tao, who was sentenced to 10 years in 2005 after publicising an email from Chinese officials about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The project has drawn comparisons to Daniel Ellsberg’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. In the United States, the leaking of some documents may be legally protected. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution guarantees anonymity, at least in the area of political discourse. Author and journalist Whitley Strieber has spoken about the benefits of the WikiLeaks project, noting that “Leaking a government document can mean jail, but jail sentences for this can be fairly short. However, there are many places where it means long incarceration or even death, such as China and parts of Africa and the Middle East.”
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 mirrors. WikiLeaks stated on its website that it would resume full operation once the operational costs were covered. WikiLeaks saw this as a kind of strike “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.
On 22 January 2010, 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 back up.
As of 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 cut. WikiLeaks commented, “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 sites.
On 17 July Jacob Appelbaum spoke on behalf of WikiLeaks at the 2010 Hackers on Planet Earth conference in New York City, replacing Assange because of the presence of federal agents at the conference. He announced that the WikiLeaks submission system was again up and running, after it had been temporarily suspended. Assange was a surprise speaker at a TED conference on 19 July 2010 in Oxford, and confirmed that WikiLeaks was now accepting submissions again.
Upon returning to the U.S. from the Netherlands, on 29 July, Appelbaum was detained for three hours at the airport by U.S. agents, according to anonymous sources. The sources told Cnet that Appelbaum’s bag was searched, receipts from his bag were photocopied, his laptop was inspected, although in what manner was unclear. Appelbaum reportedly refused to answer questions without a lawyer present, and was not allowed to make a phone call. His three mobile phones were reportedly taken and not returned. On 31 July, he spoke at a Defcon conference and mentioned his phone being “seized”. After speaking, he was approached by two FBI agents and questioned.
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 has no official headquarters. The expenses per year are about €200,000, mainly for servers and bureaucracy, but would reach €600,000 if work currently done by volunteers were paid for. WikiLeaks does not pay for lawyers, as hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal support have been donated by media organisations such as the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, and the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Its only revenue stream is donations, but WikiLeaks is planning to add an auction model to sell early access to documents. According to the Wau Holland Foundation, WikiLeaks receives no money for personnel costs, only for hardware, travelling and bandwidth. An article in TechEYE.net wrote
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 former German representative Daniel Schmitt (real name Daniel Domscheit-Berg) on national television that all personnel works voluntarily, even its speakers.
Site management issues
Within WikiLeaks, there has been public disagreement between founder and spokesperson Julian Assange and Domscheit-Berg, the site’s former German representative who was suspended by Assange. Domscheit-Berg announced on 28 September 2010 that he was leaving the organization due to internal conflicts over management of the site.
WikiLeaks describes itself as “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking”. WikiLeaks is hosted by PRQ, a Sweden-based company providing “highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services.” PRQ is said to have “almost no information about its clientele and maintains few if any of its own logs.” The servers are spread around the world with the central 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 to take WikiLeaks offline. 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.
On 17 August 2010, it was announced that the Swedish Pirate Party will be hosting and managing many of WikiLeaks’ new servers. The party donates servers and bandwidth to WikiLeaks without charge. Technicians of the party will make sure that the servers are maintained and working.
Some servers are hosted in an underground nuclear bunker in Stockholm.
After the site became the target of a denial-of-service attack from a hacker on its old servers, WikiLeaks moved its site to Amazon’s servers. Later, however, the website was “ousted” from the Amazon servers, without a public statement from the company. WikiLeaks then decided to install itself on the servers of OVH in France.
WikiLeaks is based on several software packages, including MediaWiki, Freenet, Tor, and PGP. WikiLeaks strongly encouraged postings via Tor because of the strong privacy needs of its users.
On 4 November 2010, Julian Assange told Swiss public television TSR that he is seriously considering seeking political asylum in neutral Switzerland and setting up a WikiLeaks foundation in the country to move the operation there. According to Assange, Switzerland and Iceland are the only countries where WikiLeaks would feel safe to operate.
Name and policies
Despite using the name “WikiLeaks”, the website is not wiki-based as of December 2010. Also, despite some popular confusion due to both having the term “wiki” in their names, WikiLeaks and Wikipedia have no affiliation with each other i.e. “wiki” is not a brand name.
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 analyze 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.” It is no longer possible for anybody to post to it or edit it, as the original FAQ promised. Instead, submissions are regulated by an internal review process and some are published, while documents not fitting the editorial criteria are rejected by anonymous WikiLeaks reviewers. By 2008, the revised FAQ stated that “Anybody can post comments to it. […] Users can publicly discuss documents and analyze their credibility and veracity.” After the 2010 relaunch, posting new comments to leaks was no longer possible.
Verification of submissions
WikiLeaks states that it has never released a misattributed document. 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 scrutinize 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 fields such as language or programming, who also investigate the background of the leaker if his or her identity is known. In that group, Assange has the final decision about the assessment of a document.
The legal status of WikiLeaks is complex. Its servers are located throughout Europe and are accessible from any uncensored web connection. The files it leaks are from countries around the world in which they may have various legal statuses. WikiLeaks headquarters is in Sweden because of its strong shield laws to protect confidential journalistic sources. WikiLeaks has stated it does not request classified or confidential materials.[ However, on previous occasions WikiLeaks has requested recommendations and has published lists of “Most Wanted” documents from the public. They may be protected against the US Espionage Act of 1917 as news organizations are allowed to publish confidential military and national security information if they did not directly solicit it. After the Pentagon Papers were leaked in, the US Supreme Court ruled that “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. However, WikiLeaks compilation of most wanted lists of confidential or classified materials raises legal grey area questions.
In the United States the Justice Department has indicated it is considering criminal charges against WikiLeaks. However, the Justice Department has not specifically indicated what law these charges would stem from. Legal scholars have stated that charges under the Espionage Act could be possible, but such a move has been characterized as “difficult” by former prosecutors because of First Amendment rights in the United States.
On 29 July 2010 WikiLeaks added a 1.4 GB “Insurance File” to the Afghan War Diary page. The file is AES encrypted and has been speculated to serve as insurance in case the WikiLeaks website or its spokesman Julian Assange are incapacitated, upon which the passphrase could be published, similar to the concept of a dead man’s switch. Following the first few days’ release of the United States diplomatic cables starting 28 November 2010, the US television broadcaster 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 U.S. government if it were released.
Investigations, censorship, and alleged harassment and surveillance
According to The Times, WikiLeaks and its members have complained about continuing harassment and surveillance by law enforcement and intelligence organizations, including extended detention, seizure of computers, veiled threats, “covert following and hidden photography.” Two laywers for Julian Assange in the United Kingdom told The Guardian that they believed they were being watched by the security services after the US cables leak.
Police raid on German WikiLeaks domain holder’s home
The home of Theodor Reppe, registrant of the German WikiLeaks domain name, wikileaks.de, was raided on 24 March 2009 after WikiLeaks released the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) censorship blacklist. The site was not affected.
Wikileaks’s website claims that the government of the People’s Republic of China has attempted to block all traffic to web sites with “wikileaks” in the URL since 2007, but that this can be bypassed through encrypted connections or by using one of Wikileaks’s many covert URLs.
Potential future Australian censorship
On 16 March 2009, the Australian Communications and Media Authority added WikiLeaks to their proposed blacklist of sites that will be blocked for all Australians if the mandatory internet filtering censorship scheme is implemented as planned. The blacklisting was removed 30 November 2010.
The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) is currently censoring the website WikiLeaks in Thailand and more than 40,000 other webpages because of the emergency decree in Thailand imposed as a result of political instabilities (Emergency decree declared beginning of April 2010). When trying to access the WikiLeaks website, internet users are redirected to this webpage.
Access to WikiLeaks is currently blocked in the United States Library of Congress. On 3 December 2010 the White House Office of Management and Budget sent a memo forbidding all unauthorized federal government employees and contractors from accessing classified documents publicly available on WikiLeaks and other websites.
The U.S. Justice Department opened a criminal probe of Wikileaks and founder Julian Assange shortly after the leak of diplomatic cables began.Attorney General Eric Holder affirmed the probe 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, a move which former prosecutors characterized as “difficult”. Several Supreme Court cases have previously established that the American constitution protects the re-publication of illegally gained information provided the publishers did not themselves break any laws in acquiring it.
After the release of the 2007 airstrikes video and as they prepared to release film of the Granai airstrike, Julian Assange has said that his group of volunteers came under intense surveillance. In an interview and Twitter posts he said that a restaurant in Reykjavík where his group of volunteers met came under surveillance in March; there was “covert following and hidden photography” by police and foreign intelligence services; that an apparent British intelligence agent made thinly veiled threats in a Luxembourg car park; and that one of the volunteers was detained by police for 21 hours. Another volunteer posted that computers were seized, saying “If anything happens to us, you know why … and you know who is responsible.” According to the Columbia Journalism Review, “the Icelandic press took a look at Assange’s charges of being surveilled in Iceland […] and, at best, have found nothing to substantiate them.
In August 2009, Kaupthing Bank, succeeded in obtaining a court order gagging Iceland’s national broadcaster, RÚV, from broadcasting a risk analysis report showing the bank’s substantial exposure to debt default risk. This information had been leaked by a whistleblower to WikiLeaks and remained available on the WikiLeaks site; faced with an injunction minutes before broadcast the channel ran with a screen grab of the WikiLeaks site instead of the scheduled piece on the bank. Citizens of Iceland felt outraged that RÚV was prevented from broadcasting news of relevance. Therefore, WikiLeaks has been credited with inspiring the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a bill meant to reclaim Iceland’s 2007 Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) ranking as first in the world for free speech. It aims to enact a range of protections for sources, journalists, and publishers. Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a former volunteer for WikiLeaks and member the Icelandic parliament, is the chief sponsor of the proposal.
By organizations and companies
WikiLeaks claimed in April 2010 that Facebook deleted their fan page, which had 30,000 fans. However, as of 5 December 2010 the group’s Facebook fan page was available and had grown by 100.000 fans daily since December 1, to more than 770,000 fans. It is also the largest growth of the week.
In October 2010, it was reported that Moneybookers, which collected donations for WikiLeaks, had ended its relationship with the site. Moneybookers stated that its decision had been made “to comply with money laundering or other investigations conducted by government authorities, agencies or commissions.
After the US diplomatic cables leak
Following the US diplomatic cables leak, which started on 28 November 2010, several companies severed ties with WikiLeaks. On 2 December, American owned EveryDNS dropped WikiLeaks from its entries, citing DDoS attacks that “threatened the stability of its infrastructure”. The site’s ‘info’ DNS lookup remained operational at alternative addresses for direct access respectively to the Wikileaks and Cablegate websites. On the same day, Amazon.com severed its ties with WikiLeaks, to which it was providing infrastructure services, after an intervention by an aide of US Senator Joe Lieberman. Amazon denied acting under political pressure citing a violation of its terms of service. Lieberman, who later praised Amazon’s decision and called for other companies to follow suit, also proposed new legislation targeting similar cases — Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act, also known as the the SHIELD Act. Two days later, PayPal, the payment processor owned by eBay, permanently cut off the account of the Wau Holland Foundation that had been redirecting donations to WikiLeaks. PayPal alleged that the account violated its “Acceptable Use Policy”, specifically that it was used for “activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity. In the days following, hundreds of mirrors of the WikiLeaks site appeared and the Anonymous group of internet activists, called on supporters to attack the websites of companies who do not support WikiLeaks. The Associated Free Press reported that attempts to shut down the wikileaks.org address had lead to the site surviving via the so-called Streisand effect, whereby attempts to censor information online leads to it being replicated in many places.
Daniel Ellsberg (2006) has made numerous media interviews supporting WikiLeaks.
In July 2010 Veterans for Peace president Mike Ferner editorialized on the group’s website “neither Wikileaks nor the soldier or soldiers who divulged the documents should be prosecuted for revealing this information. We should give them a medal.
Documentary filmmaker John Pilger wrote an August 2010 editorial in the Australian publication Green Left titled “Wikileaks Must Be Defended.” In it, Pilger said WikiLeaks represented the interests of “public accountability” and a new form of journalism at odds with “the dominant section … devoted merely to taking down what cynical and malign power tells it.
Daniel Ellsberg, the man who released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, has been a frequent defender of WikiLeaks. Following the November 2010 release of U.S. diplomatic cables, Ellsberg rejected criticism that the site was endangering the lives of U.S. military personnel and intelligence assets stating “not one single soldier or informant has been in danger from any of the WikiLeaks releases. That risk has been largely overblown.” Ellsberg went on to note that government claims to the contrary were “a script that they roll out every time there’s a leak of any sort.
On 3 December 2010 Republican Congressman of Texas, Ron Paul, spoke out publicly during a Fox Business interview in support of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange; “In a free society we’re supposed to know the truth,” Paul said. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we’re in big trouble.” Paul went on to state, “Why don’t we prosecute The New York Times or anybody that releases this?” Fellow Republican congressman Connie Mack of Florida also praised WikiLeaks, stating that Americans have a right to know the contents of the leaks, “no matter how we acquire that knowledge.
Following the November 2010 leak of United States diplomatic cables The Atlantic, in a staff editorial, opined “Wikileaks is a powerful new way for reporters and human rights advocates to leverage global information technology systems to break the heavy veil of government and corporate secrecy that is slowly suffocating the American press.” Calling legal and physical threats against WikiLeaks volunteers “shameful” the magazine went on to state, “Not since President Richard Nixon directed his minions to go after Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg and New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan … has a working journalist and his source been subjected to the kind of official intimidation and threats that have been directed at Assange and Manning by high-ranking members of the Obama Administration.
On 4 December 2010 Reporters Without Borders condemned the “blocking, cyber-attacks and political pressure” being directed at WikiLeaks. The organization is also concerned by some of the extreme comments made by American authorities concerning WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.
In an article titled “Only WikiLeaks Can Save US Policy” published on the online foreign affairs magazine The Diplomat, former long-time CIA counter-terrorism expert Michael Scheuer said the source of interest in WikiLeaks revelations was in the inherent dishonesty of recent U.S. administrations. “In recent years, the US public has had to hear its leaders repeatedly tell Americans that black was white,” Scheuer wrote, referencing the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
In 2008 Index on Censorship presented WikiLeaks with their inaugural Economist New Media Award.
In 2009 Amnesty International awarded WikiLeaks their Media Award for exposing “extra judicial killings and disappearances” in Kenya.
Praise by governments
Ecuador In late November 2010 a representative of the government of Ecuador made what was, apparently, an unsolicited public offer to Julian Assange to establish residency in Ecuador. Deputy Foreign Minister Kinto Lucas stated “we are going to invite him to come to Ecuador so he can freely present the information he possesses and all the documentation, not just on the Internet, but in various public forums. Lucas went on to state his praise for WikiLeaks and Assange calling them “[people] who are constantly investigating and trying to get light out of the dark corners of [state] information. The following day, however, president Rafael Correa distanced his administration from the offer stating that Lucas had been speaking for himself and not on the government’s behalf. Correa then criticized Assange for “breaking the laws of the United States and leaking this type of information. Venezuela Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, stated his support for WikiLeaks following the release of U.S. diplomatic cables in November 2010 that showed the United States had tried to rally support from regional governments to isolate Venezuela. “I have to congratulate the people of WikiLeaks for their bravery and courage,” Chávez commented in televised remarks.
WikiLeaks has attracted criticism from a variety of sources.
In 2007 John Young, operator of cryptome, left his position on the WikiLeaks Board of Directors accusing the group of being a “CIA conduit.” Young subsequently retreated from his assertion but has continued to be critical of the site. In a 2010 interview with CNET.com Young accused the group of a lack of transparency regarding their fundraising and financial management. He went on to state his belief that WikiLeaks could not guarantee whistleblowers the anonymity or confidentiality they claimed and that he “would not trust them with information if it had any value, or if it put me at risk or anyone that I cared about at risk.”
Citing the leaking of the sorority rituals of Alpha Sigma Tau, Steven Aftergood has opined that WikiLeaks “does not respect the rule of law nor does it honor the rights of individuals.” Aftergood went on to state that WikiLeaks engages in unrestrained disclosure of non-governmental secrets without compelling public policy reasons and that many anti-corruption activists were opposed to the site’s activities.
In 2010, Amnesty International joined several other human rights groups criticizing WikiLeaks for not adequately redacting the names of Afghan civilians working as U.S. military informants from files they had released. Julian Assange responded by offering Amnesty International staff the opportunity to assist in the document vetting process. When Amnesty International appeared to express reservations in accepting the offer, Assange dismissed the group as “people who prefer to do nothing but cover their asses.” Other groups that joined Amnesty International in criticizing WikiLeaks subsequently noted that, despite their displeasure over the issue of civilian name redaction, they generally appreciated WikiLeaks work.
In an August 2010 open letter, the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders praised WikiLeaks’ past usefulness in exposing “serious violations of human rights and civil liberties” but criticized the group over a perceived absence of editorial control, stating “indiscriminately publishing 92,000 classified reports reflects a real problem of methodology and, therefore, of credibility. Journalistic work involves the selection of information. The argument with which you defend yourself, namely that WikiLeaks is not made up of journalists, is not convincing.” The group subsequently clarified their statement as a criticism of WikiLeaks release procedure and not the organization itself, stating “we reaffirm our support for Wikileaks, its work and its founding principles.”
On 30 November 2010, former Canadian government adviser Tom Flanagan, while appearing on the CBC television program “Power & Politics”, called for Julian Assange to be killed. “I think Assange should be assassinated,” Flanagan stated, before noting to host Evan Solomon, “I’m feeling pretty manly today.” Flanagan subsequently retracted his call for the death of Assange while reiterating his opposition to WikiLeaks. Dimitri Soudas, spokesman to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, decried Flanagan’s comments and said the former Tory strategist “should be charged with incitement to commit murder.” Ralph Goodale, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons, called Flanagan’s remarks “clearly contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Criticism by governments
Most of the governments and organizations whose files have been leaked by WikiLeaks have been critical of the organization.
- Australia On 2 December 2010 Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a statement that she ‘absolutely condemns’ Wikileaks’ actions and that the release of information on the site was ‘grossly irresponsible’ and ‘illegal.’ (Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is Australian and he responded two days later by accusing his prime minister of betraying him as an Australian citizen.)
- France The French Industry Minister Éric Besson said in a letter to the CGIET technology agency, WikiLeaks “violates the secret of diplomatic relations and puts people protected by diplomatic secret in danger.” Therefore it would be ‘unacceptable’ that the site was hosted on servers based in France. The minister asked for measures to bar WikiLeaks from France.
- Iran The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, joined in criticism of WikiLeaks following the November 2010 release of United States diplomatic cables. Ahmadinejad claimed that the release of cables purporting to show concern with Iran by Arab states was a planned leak by the United States to discredit his government, though he did not indicate whether he believed WikiLeaks was in collusion with the United States or was simply an unwitting facilitator.
- United States Following the November 2010 release of United States diplomatic cables, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the group saying, “this disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests, it is an attack on the international community.” Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee of the United States House of Representatives has stated his support for listing Wikileaks as a “foreign terrorist organization” explaining that “WikiLeaks presents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.” In a contrary statement, secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said that concerns about the disclosures were “over-wrought” in terms of their likely adverse impact on ordinary diplomatic activities. Philip J. Crowley, United States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, has stated in December 2010 that the US State Department does not regard WikiLeaks as a legitimate media organization.
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 (Britain) 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.
Bank Julius Baer 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, 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.
On 3 December 2007, WikiLeaks released a copy of the 2004 edition of the manual, together with a detailed analysis of the changes.
On 7 April 2008, WikiLeaks reported receiving a letter (dated 27 March) from the Religious Technology Center claiming ownership of several recently leaked 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
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.
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.
In January 2009, over 600 internal United Nations reports (60 of them marked “strictly confidential”) were leaked.
On 7 February 2009, WikiLeaks released 6,780 Congressional Research Service reports.
In March 2009, WikiLeaks published 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 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.
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 which have been independently confirmed to be blacklisted by ACMA.
WikiLeaks also contains details of Internet censorship in Thailand, including lists of censored sites dating back to May 2006.
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 led 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 according to which 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 has made available an internal document from Kaupthing Bank from just prior to the collapse of Iceland’s banking sector, which led to the 2008–2010 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
Joint Services Protocol 440 (“JSP 440”) is the name of a British 2001 Ministry of Defense 2,400-page restricted document for security containing instructions for avoiding leaks in the information flow caused by hackers, journalists, and foreign spies. The protocol was posted on WikiLeaks on 3 October 2009.
9/11 pager messages
On 25 November 2009, WikiLeaks released 570,000 intercepts of pager messages sent on the day of the September 11 attacks. Bradley Manning (see below) commented that those were obvious NSA intercepts. 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 which 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
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, including two Reuters news staff, Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen, on a website called “Collateral Murder”. The footage consisted of a 39-minute unedited version and an 18-minute version which had been edited and annotated. Analysis of the video indicates that the pilots thought the men were carrying weapons (which were actually camera equipment). When asked if they were sure that the men were carrying weapons, they answered in the affirmative. The military conducted an “informal” investigation into the incident, but has yet to release the investigative materials (such as the sworn statements of the soldiers involved or the battle damage assessment) that were used, causing the report to be criticized as “sloppy.
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.
Arrest of Bradley Manning
A 22-year-old US Army intelligence analyst, PFC (formerly SPC) Bradley Manning, was arrested after alleged chat logs were turned in to the authorities by former hacker Adrian Lamo, in whom he had confided. Manning reportedly told Lamo he had leaked the “Collateral Murder” 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 his 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 him.
Manning reportedly wrote, “Everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed. According to The Washington Post, he also described the cables as “explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective.
Afghan War Diary
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 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
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 during the period after the 2003 war.
Diplomatic cables release
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 have speculated that they may contain 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. 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.
Announcements on upcoming leaks
In May 2010, WikiLeaks said they had video footage of a massacre of civilians in Afghanistan by the U.S. 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 BP, and that they were “getting enormous quantity of whistle-blower disclosures of a very high caliber” but added that they have not been able to verify and release the material because they do not have enough volunteer journalists.
In October 2010, Assange told a leading 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”.
In a 2009 Computer World interview, Assange claimed to be in possession of “5GB from Bank of America”, and in 2010 told Forbes magazine that 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 as a result of this announcement by three percent. Assange commented on the possible impact of the release that ”it could take down a bank or two.
In December 2010, Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, told The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC, that WikiLeaks had information that it considers to be a “thermo-nuclear device” which it would release if the organisation needs to defend itself.