87 Facts About WikiLeaks


WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organisation that publishes news leaks and classified media provided by anonymous sources.

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WikiLeaks has variously described itself as an organization of journalists, political activists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists, an intermediary between sources and journalists, an advocacy group for sources, and a public intelligence agency.

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In 2010, WikiLeaks released classified diplomatic cables that had been sent to the US State Department.

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In 2012, WikiLeaks released the "Syria Files, " over two million emails sent by Syrian politicians, corporations and government ministries.

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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.

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WikiLeaks said that the source of the documents was not Russia or any other state.

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In 2017, WikiLeaks published internal CIA documents describing tools used by the agency to hack devices including mobile phones and routers.

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WikiLeaks has, for instance, revealed Social Security numbers, medical information, credit card numbers and details of suicide attempts.

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Inspiration for WikiLeaks was Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

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WikiLeaks was established in Australia but its servers were soon moved to Sweden and other countries that provided more legal protection for the media.

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WikiLeaks originally used a "wiki" communal publication method, which ended by May 2010.

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Wikia, a for-profit corporation affiliated loosely with the Wikimedia Foundation, purchased several WikiLeaks-related domain names as a "protective brand measure" in 2007.

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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".

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WikiLeaks describes itself as "an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking".

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Until August 2010, WikiLeaks was hosted by PRQ, a company based in Sweden providing "highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services".

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Later, WikiLeaks was hosted mainly by the Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof in the Pionen facility, a former nuclear bunker in Sweden.

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WikiLeaks used EveryDNS, but was dropped by the company after distributed denial-of-service attacks against WikiLeaks hurt the quality of service for its other customers.

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WikiLeaks restructured its process for contributions after its first document leaks did not gain much attention.

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WikiLeaks established an editorial policy that accepted only documents that were "of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical interest" .

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Now, submissions to WikiLeaks are reviewed by anonymous WikiLeaks reviewers, and documents that do not meet the editorial criteria are rejected.

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In 2010, WikiLeaks set up a private limited company in Iceland for administrative purposes, according to a long-time spokesman and later editor-in-chief.

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WikiLeaks is a self-described not-for-profit organisation, funded largely by volunteers, and is dependent on public donations.

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In January 2010, WikiLeaks temporarily shut down its website while management appealed for donations.

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WikiLeaks stated that it would resume full operation once the operational costs were paid.

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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".

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WikiLeaks said that this had happened before, and was done for "no obvious reason".

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Datacell, the IT company that enabled WikiLeaks to accept credit and debit card donations, threatened Mastercard and Visa with legal action to enforce the resumption of payments to WikiLeaks.

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In July 2011, WikiLeaks filed a complaint against Visa and MasterCard with the European Commission.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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On 29 July 2010 WikiLeaks added an "Insurance file" to the Afghan War Diary page.

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On 27 February 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor.

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On 25 October 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Detainee Policies, files covering the rules and procedures for detainees in US military custody.

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In September 2013, WikiLeaks published "Spy Files 3", 250 documents from more than 90 surveillance companies.

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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.

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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.

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On 23 June 2015, WikiLeaks published documents under the name of "Espionnage Elysee", 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.

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On 29 June 2015, WikiLeaks published more NSA top secrets intercepts regarding France, detailing an economic espionage against French companies and associations.

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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.

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On 4 July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents which showed that 29 Brazilian government numbers were selected for secret espionage by the NSA.

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On 29 July 2015, WikiLeaks published a top secret letter from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Ministerial Meeting in December 2013 which illustrated the position of negotiating countries on "state-owned enterprises" .

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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.

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On 21 October 2015 WikiLeaks published some of John O Brennan's emails, including a draft security clearance application which contained personal information.

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WikiLeaks created a search engine to allow the public to search through Clinton's emails.

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In July 2016, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee 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.

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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.

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On 17 October 2016, WikiLeaks announced that a "state party" had severed the Internet connection of Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy.

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WikiLeaks blamed United States Secretary of State John Kerry of pressuring the Ecuadorian government in severing Assange's Internet, an accusation which the United States State Department denied.

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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.

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On 16 February 2017, WikiLeaks released a purported report on CIA espionage orders for the 2012 French presidential election.

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On 5 May 2017, WikiLeaks posted links to e-mails purported to be from Emmanuel Macron's campaign in the French 2017 presidential election.

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In November 2019, WikiLeaks released an email from an unnamed investigator from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons team investigating the 2018 chemical attack in Douma .

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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".

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On 12 November 2019, WikiLeaks began publishing what it called the Fishrot Files, 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 krona to high ranking politicians and officials in Namibia with the objective of acquiring the country's coveted fishing quota.

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WikiLeaks stated in 2010 that it has never released a misattributed document and that documents are assessed before release.

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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.

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WikiLeaks promoted conspiracy theories about the murder of Seth Rich.

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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.

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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.

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The UK Information Commissioner has stated that "WikiLeaks is part of the phenomenon of the online, empowered citizen".

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In 2010, an Internet petition in support of WikiLeaks attracted more than six hundred thousand signatures.

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WikiLeaks even rejected the opportunity to publish unrelated leaks, because it dedicated all its resources to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

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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.

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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.

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WikiLeaks shared a link to a site that would help people to search through WikiLeaks documents.

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WikiLeaks said Assange never applied for the visa or wrote the letter.

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In 2012, as WikiLeaks was under a financial blockade, Assange began to host World Tomorrow, a television show that was distributed by Journeyman Pictures and aired on RT.

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In September 2016, the Daily Dot wrote that according to leaked court documents and a chatlog, a WikiLeaks release excluded evidence of a €2 billion transaction between the Syrian government and a government-owned Russian bank.

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WikiLeaks has been accused of anti-semitism both in its Twitter activity and hiring decisions.

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WikiLeaks has been criticised for making misleading claims about the contents of its leaks.

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Fisher said WikiLeaks had told her that the emails were "all spam and crap" but published them anyway despite being asked not to.

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In 2008, WikiLeaks attempted to auction off the emails of an aide to Hugo Chavez, drawing criticism.

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In 2012, WikiLeaks put the Global Intelligence files behind a paywall, drawing intense criticism from supporters including Anonymous.

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WikiLeaks has issued crowd-sourced rewards for the TTIP chapters, the TPP and information on the Kunduz Massacre.

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WikiLeaks has issued other bounties for leaks on Troika Crisis Planning, LabourLeaks, Trump-Comey tapes, evidence of Obama administration officials destroying information, 2016 U S Presidential election-related information, information to get a reporter at The Intercept fired over the Reality Winner case, the U S Senate torture report, and documents and Sweden's vote on placing Saudi Arabia on the UN Women's Rights Commission.

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WikiLeaks has drawn criticism for violating the personal privacy of individuals and inadequately curating its content.

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In 2010, Amnesty International joined several other human rights groups in strongly requesting that WikiLeaks redact the names of Afghan civilians working as U S military informants from files they had released, in order to protect them from repercussions.

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WikiLeaks has published individuals' Social Security numbers, medical information, and credit card numbers.

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Some of WikiLeaks' cables "described patients with psychiatric conditions, seriously ill children or refugees".

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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.

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WikiLeaks responded by accusing Snowden of pandering to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

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WikiLeaks had scheduled the video for publication before its deletion.

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Iceland MP Birgitta Jonsdottir left WikiLeaks, citing lack of transparency, lack of structure, and poor communication flow in the organisation.

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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.

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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.

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