Wikileaks is a website (unrelated to Wikipedia) that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive religious, corporate and government documents, while taking measures to preserve the anonymity and untraceability of its contributors. Within one year of its December 2006 launch, its database had grown to more than 1.2 million documents.[1] Running on modified MediaWiki software, Wikileaks is hosted by PRQ, an internet service provider in Sweden.[2]

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. They claim their source of the information was Wikileaks.[3]

History[edit | edit source]

The site and its project were secret until their existence was disclosed in a January 2007 article after Wikileaks invited the editor of Secrecy News to serve on their advisory board.[4]

The site is being developed by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.[5] 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."[6][7] All current staff, developers, and employees of Wikileaks are unidentified as of January 2007.[8]

Wikileaks advisory board member Julian Assange stated the site was to go live in March 2007 but was unprepared for the media attention that its ahead-of-schedule disclosure generated.

There are no ties between Wikileaks and the Wikimedia Foundation.[9] The website has stated that they already have over 1,200,000 leaked documents that they are preparing to publish.[10] They also posted a 19 page analysis.[11] 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.[12]

Wikileaks aims to be "an uncensorable version of Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis."[13] Wikileaks developers have stated that there will be checks in place to keep the "completely anonymous" system from being flooded with false documents, pornography, and spam. All users will be able to comment on all documents, analyze them, and identify false material.[8] Their stated goal is to ensure that whistle-blowers and journalists are not thrown into jail for emailing sensitive or classified documents, such as what happened to Chinese journalist Shi Tao, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2005 after publicising an email from Chinese officials about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.[14] Traffic following its disclosure increased from eight Google searches to over 1,000,000 in the first two weeks.[15]

The project has drawn comparisons to Daniel Ellsberg's leaking of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.[16] 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.[16] 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."[17]

Advisory Board[edit | edit source]

WikiLeak's Advisory Board includes nine members, these are:

Technology[edit | edit source]

According to the FAQ, "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."[19]

Wikileaks is based on several software packages, including MediaWiki, Freenet, Tor, and PGP.[20]

Hosting, Access and Security[edit | edit source]

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". PRQ is owned by Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij who through their involvement in The Pirate Bay have signifcant experience in withstanding legal challanges by authorities.

Being hosted by PRQ makes it difficult to take Wikileaks off-line. Furthermore, "Wikileaks maintains its own servers at undisclosed locations, keeps no logs and uses military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information." An unidentified individual working for Wikileaks is quoted as saying "Wikileaks certainly trusts no hosting provider".

Such arrangements have been called "bulletproof hosting", historically used by criminal online gangs.[21]

Chinese censorship[edit | edit source]

The Chinese government currently attempts to censor every web site with "wikileaks" in the URL, including the primary .org site and the regional variations .cn and .uk. However, the site is still accessible from behind the Chinese firewall through one of the many alternative names used by the project, such as "" and "". The alternate sites change frequently, and Wikileaks encourages users to search "wikileaks cover names" outside mainland China for the latest alternative names. Mainland search engines, including Baidu and Yahoo, also censor references to "wikileaks".[22] Template:Wikinewshas

Bank Julius Baer lawsuit[edit | edit source]


Main article: Bank Julius Baer vs. Wikileaks lawsuit

In February 2008, the domain name was taken offline after the Swiss Bank Julius Baer sued Wikileaks and the domain registrar Dynadot in a California court, USA, and obtained a permanent injunction ordering the shutdown.[23][24] Wikileaks had hosted allegations of illegal activities at the bank's Cayman Island branch.[23]

Wikileaks' US ISP 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 alternate websites worldwide.[25]

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 (RCFP) assembled a coalition of media and press that filed a "friend of the court brief" on Wikileaks' behalf. The coalition included a number of major US newspaper publishers and press organisations, including: the American Society of Newspaper 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 Association, the Newspaper Association of America, The Radio-Television News Directors Association, 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 the court had apparently overlooked (on the grounds that Wikileaks had not appeared in court to defend itself and no First Amendment issues had yet been raised before the court). Amongst others the coalition argued that:[26]

"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."[27]

The same judge, Judge Jeffrey White, who issued the injunction vacated it on February 29, 2008, citing First Amendment concerns and questions about legal jurisdiction.[28] Wikileaks was thus able to bring its site online again. The bank dropped the case on March 5, 2008.[29] The judge also denied the bank's request for an order prohibiting the website's publication.[30]

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."[31]

Verification of submissions[edit | edit source]

In response to concerns about the possibility of misleading or fraudulent leaks, Wikileaks said misleading leaks "are already well-placed in the mainstream media. [Wikileaks] is of no additional assistance."[32] The FAQ states that: Template:Cquote

Guantánamo Bay procedures[edit | edit source]

A copy of Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta (the protocol of the U.S. Army at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp) dated March 2003 was released on the Wikileaks website on 7 November 2007.[33] The document, named "gitmo-sop.pdf", is also mirrored at The Guardian.[34] 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 the U.S. military had in the past repeatedly denied.[35]

On 3 December 2007, Wikileaks released a copy of the 2004 edition of the manual,[36] together with a detailed analysis of the changes.[37]

Scientology[edit | edit source]

On April 7 2008, Wikileaks reported receiving a letter (dated March 27) from the Religious Technology Centre claiming ownership of several recently leaked documents pertaining to OT Levels within the Church of Scientology. These same documents were at the centre of a 1994 scandal.

The email stated Template:Cquote

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 Template:Cquote

See also[edit | edit source]

Template:Portal Template:Portal Template:Portal

Further reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Wikileaks websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]


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  8. 8.0 8.1 Template:Cite news
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  10. Template:Cite web, Wikileaks, December 29, 2006.
  11. H.H.Harpoon "Inside the Somali Civil War and the Islamic Courts", Wikileaks December 29, 2006.
  12. Template:Cite news
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  14. Template:Cite news
  15. Template:Cite news
  16. 16.0 16.1 Scott Bradner "Wikileaks: a site for exposure", Linuxworld, January 18, 2007. Retrieved January 18, 2007. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "LinuxworldWikileaks1" defined multiple times with different content
  17. Template:Cite news
  19. Template:Cite web
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  23. 23.0 23.1 Template:Cite press release
  24. Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd. et al. v. Wikileaks et al.
  28. Template:Cite news
  29. Template:Cite web
  32. Daniel Friedman "Web site aims to post government secrets", Federal Times, January 4, 2007.
  33. "Sensitive Guantánamo Bay Manual Leaked Through Wiki Site", Wired November 14, 2007
  34. specific address at The Guardian.
  35. Template:Cite news
  36. "Camp Delta Operating Procedure (2004)"
  37. "Changes in Guantanamo SOP manual (2003-2004)"
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