WHAT IS WIKILEAKS?
Wikileaks is a nonprofit whistleblowing platform founded by Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange in December 2006. It’s main purpose is to disseminate classified documents, news leaks and secret documents from anonymous sources and whistleblowers.
Its website claims a database of 10 million documents in 10 years since its launch.
WHO IS JULIAN ASSANGE?
WikiLeaks is usually represented in public by Julian Assange, an Australian-born computer programmer and activist. Assange has been residing within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since receiving political asylum in 2012.
In 2010, Assange was accused of rape and sexual assault by two women in Sweden. He denies the accusations, but sought political asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights provides representation to Assange in court. It operates on two fundamental principles:
- States have an obligation to protect whistleblowers, [who exercise] fundamental rights to access and obtain information.
2. States have a positive obligation to promote freedom of expression through cyber laws, and must not use technical violations to punish whistleblowers.
Wikileaks achieved immense fame after US Army Pfc. Chelsea (Bradley) Manning released almost a million classified Pentagon cables, collectively known as Reykjavik 13 (Icesave scandal), the Iraq War Logs, the Baghdad and Granai airstrikes, the Afghan War Diary, and Guantanamo Bay files; fully exposing America’s military invasions, war crimes, and corruption.
Manning is widely considered a patriot and whistleblower. Initially, the Obama Administration refused to grant her immunity under the Whistleblower Protection Act, charging her with five capital offences totalling 35 years with no chance for parole.
Three days before the end of Barack Obama’s term as President, the White House announced that he had commuted all but four months of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence.
Another explosive scandal Wikileaks unveiled were the Hillary Clinton Email Archives.
During the 2016 US presidential election campaign, WikiLeaks released emails and other documents from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. Containing over 30,322 emails from her private account, they reveal her plans to illegally overthrow Syria and Libya, as well as using Google to promote her agendas.
These releases caused significant harm to the Clinton campaign, and have been attributed as a potential contributing factor to her loss.
The U.S. intelligence community expressed “high confidence” that the leaked emails had been hacked by Russia and supplied to WikiLeaks, while WikiLeaks denied their source was Russia or any other state.
Assange advised Edward Snowden, another American whistleblower, on how to obtain asylum by encouraging him to move to Russia while ignoring “negative PR” about his decision. Snowden, citing U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, acted upon it and released his official statement on the matter.
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. On April 27th, they tweeted that the “DC based @ICIJorg is setting a very dangerous & short-sighted international standard where everything is censored by default”.
WikiLeaks has also 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.
WIKILEAKS FACTS AND FIGURES
WIKILEAKS has published over 10 million secret cables covering 33 topics, and won 17 prestigious awards, including a nomination for the UN Nelson Mandela award.
Wikileaks works with over 80+ partners, including the New York Times, The Intercept, Russia Today, the London Guardian, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, LeMonde, and the Wall Street Journal.
Wikileaks regularly offers bounties for the world’s darkest secrets, and, in 2015, posted $100,000 for information on the elusive Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Wikileaks has over 800 voluntary contributors and holds no official headquarters.
After financial shortages and legal disputes, in 2010, the Swedish Pirate Party decided to host, manage, and administer many of Wikileaks’ servers free of charge, as well as provide representation in the Swedish parliament.
Wikileaks is financed mostly through the Wau Holland Stiftung; a German foundation related to the Chaos Computer Club; an “Xavier’s School for Gifted Hackers”. It also accepts BitCoin and PayPal. However, PayPal has repeatedly denied funds to them.
ASSANGE AND THE LAW
Julian Assange has been residing at the London Ecuadorian Embassy since June 19th, 2012. Failing to invoke the Espionage Act of 1917, the Obama administration used the Tiger Woods method: a Swedish sexual scandal. The campaign Justice for Assange has released an official statement in response.
The United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) ruled his detention unlawful and human rights and access to medical care violated. They demand his immediate release with full compensation from the US and UK governments; both which have refused to cooperate.