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WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organisation with the stated goal of improving the transparency of governments, corporations and other organisations, and thereby ultimately reducing corruption and creating stronger democracies. The organisation was launched in 2007[1] by Julian Assange, an Australian internet activist.[2] Since its formation, WikiLeaks has released more classified intelligence documents than the rest of the world press combined, according to the organisation's website.[3]

How WikiLeaks Works

Wikileaks publishes private, secret and classified media provided by anonymous news sources and whistleblowers. When information is submitted to WikiLeaks via a high-security electronic drop box, the organisation's journalists analyse and verify the material and write a news piece describing its significance to society. WikiLeaks then publishes both the news story and the original source material, enabling readers themselves to analyse the story in the context of the original source material.[4]

Notable breakthroughs

Since 2007, WikiLeaks has broken many stories on controversial issues including government and corporate transparency, suppression of free speech, diplomacy and intelligence, censorship, war, and corruption.[5]

WikiLeaks broke into mainstream public knowledge in 2007, when it leaked a manual describing the day-to-day operations of the US military's Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The manual indicated that some prisoners were designated as off limits to visitors from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which the US military had repeatedly denied.[6] In July 2010, WikiLeaks published over 75,000 confidential files relating to the US war effort in Afghanistan, revealing gruesome details of civilian killings by coalition forces, the increase in Taliban attacks, and coalition concerns that neighboring countries like Pakistan and Iran were aiding insurgents in the region.[7]

As of March 2012 the Wikileaks full-text search engine, Cablegate, contained over 7,000 cables with the tag "epet", the US state department tag for topics concerning petroleum and natural gas.[8]

Criticism and legal issues

WikiLeaks has drawn intense criticism from governments, organisations and individuals who have had their information leaked.[9] Since 2007, Wikileaks has won legal battles with numerous entities, including the US Pentagon, the Chinese Public Security Bureau, the Former president of Kenya, the Premier of Bermuda, Scientology, the Catholic & Mormon Church, the largest Swiss private bank, and Russian companies.[10]

The US administration of President Barack Obama pledged to pursue those responsible for the leak of US diplomatic cables in 2010. US Army Private Bradley Manning was arrested in May of that year for disclosure of confidential and classified information connected to a number of WikiLeaks releases. In 2008, Swiss bank Julius Baer Group successfully obtained an injunction shutting down the website by forcing Dynadot, the domain registrar of, to disassociate the site’s domain name records with its servers, preventing use of the domain name to reach the site. The injunction was, however, dissolved in the same month by a United States district court and the bank dropped the suit in March 2008.[11]

However because it acts as the publisher, rather than the discloser, of leaked documents, WikiLeaks enjoys substantial protection in the United States under the first amendment, which protects the freedom of speech, for its publication of US government documents.[12]

External Links

WikiLeaks website:

Wikileaks search portal:


  1. "What is Wikileaks?" WikiLeaks, retrieved 6 February 2012.
  2. "WikiLeaks Boss Says He Enjoys 'Crushing Bastards'" ABC News, 26 July 2010.
  3. "What is Wikileaks?" WikiLeaks, retrieved 6 February 2012.
  4. "What is Wikileaks?" WikiLeaks, retrieved 6 February 2012.
  5. "What is Wikileaks?" WikiLeaks, retrieved 6 February 2012.
  6. "Guantanamo operating manual posted on Internet" Reuters, 14 November 2007.
  7. "Wikileaks releases 92,000 secret Afghan-war files" Tech Radar, 26 July 2010.
  8. "" WikiLeaks, retrieved 21 March 2012.
  9. "WikiLeaks: Secrets and Legal Liability" The Law Insider, 2 December 2010.
  10. "WikiLeaks: Secrets and Legal Liability" The Law Insider, 2 December 2010.
  11. "WikiLeaks: Secrets and Legal Liability" The Law Insider, 2 December 2010.
  12. "WikiLeaks: Secrets and Legal Liability" The Law Insider, 2 December 2010.