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WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources, news leaks, and whistleblowers. Its website, launched in 2006 under The Sunshine Press organisation, claimed a database of more than 1.2 million documents within a year of its launch. Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its founder, editor-in-chief and director.

The group has released a number of significant documents which have become front-page news items. Early releases included documentation of equipment expenditures and holdings in the Afghanistan war and corruption in Kenya. In April 2010, WikiLeaks published gunsight footage from the 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrike in which Iraqi journalists were among those killed by an Apache helicopter, as the Collateral Murder video. 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 to the public. In October 2010, the group released a package of almost 400,000 documents called the Iraq War Logs in coordination with major commercial media organisations. This allowed every death in Iraq, and across the border in Iran, to be mapped. In April 2011, WikiLeaks began publishing 779 secret files relating to prisoners detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

In November 2010, WikiLeaks collaborated with major global media organisations to release U.S. State department diplomatic cables in redacted format. The release was nicknamed CableGate. On 1 September 2011, it became public that an encrypted version of WikiLeaks’ huge archive of unredacted U.S. State Department cables had been available via Bittorrent for months, and that the decryption key (similar to a password) was available to those who knew where to look. WikiLeaks blamed the breach on its former partner, The Guardian, and that newspaper’s journalist David Leigh, who revealed the key in a book published in February 2011; The Guardian argued that WikiLeaks was to blame since they gave the impression that the decryption key was temporal (something not possible for a file decryption key). Der Spiegel reported a more complex story involving errors on both sides. Widely expressed fears that the CableGate release could endanger innocent lives have proved unfounded.

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What is Wikileaks

WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit media organisation. Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists (our electronic drop box). One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth. We are a young organisation that has grown very quickly, relying on a network of dedicated volunteers around the globe. Since 2007, when the organisation was officially launched, WikiLeaks has worked to report on and publish important information. We also develop and adapt technologies to support these activities.

WikiLeaks has sustained and triumphed against legal and political attacks designed to silence our publishing organisation, our journalists and our anonymous sources. The broader principles on which our work is based are the defence of freedom of speech and media publishing, the improvement of our common historical record and the support of the rights of all people to create new history. We derive these principles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In particular, Article 19 inspires the work of our journalists and other volunteers. It states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. We agree, and we seek to uphold this and the other Articles of the Declaration.

1.2 How WikiLeaks works

WikiLeaks has combined high-end security technologies with journalism and ethical principles. Like other media outlets conducting investigative journalism, we accept (but do not solicit) anonymous sources of information. Unlike other outlets, we provide a high security anonymous drop box fortified by cutting-edge cryptographic information technologies. This provides maximum protection to our sources. We are fearless in our efforts to get the unvarnished truth out to the public. When information comes in, our journalists analyse the material, verify it and write a news piece about it describing its significance to society. We then publish both the news story and the original material in order to enable readers to analyse the story in the context of the original source material themselves. Our news stories are in the comfortable presentation style of Wikipedia, although the two organisations are not otherwise related. Unlike Wikipedia, random readers can not edit our source documents.

As the media organisation has grown and developed, WikiLeaks been developing and improving a harm minimisation procedure. We do not censor our news, but from time to time we may remove or significantly delay the publication of some identifying details from original documents to protect life and limb of innocent people.

We accept leaked material in person and via postal drops as alternative methods, although we recommend the anonymous electronic drop box as the preferred method of submitting any material. We do not ask for material, but we make sure that if material is going to be submitted it is done securely and that the source is well protected. Because we receive so much information, and we have limited resources, it may take time to review a source’s submission.

We also have a network of talented lawyers around the globe who are personally committed to the principles that WikiLeaks is based on, and who defend our media organisation.

1.3 Why the media (and particularly Wiki leaks) is important

Publishing improves transparency, and this transparency creates a better society for all people. Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society’s institutions, including government, corporations and other organisations. A healthy, vibrant and inquisitive journalistic media plays a vital role in achieving these goals. We are part of that media.

Scrutiny requires information. Historically, information has been costly in terms of human life, human rights and economics. As a result of technical advances particularly the internet and cryptography – the risks of conveying important information can be lowered. In its landmark ruling on the Pentagon Papers, the US Supreme Court ruled that “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” We agree.

We believe that it is not only the people of one country that keep their own government honest, but also the people of other countries who are watching that government through the media.

In the years leading up to the founding of WikiLeaks, we observed the world’s publishing media becoming less independent and far less willing to ask the hard questions of government, corporations and other institutions. We believed this needed to change.

WikiLeaks has provided a new model of journalism. Because we are not motivated by making a profit, we work cooperatively with other publishing and media organisations around the globe, instead of following the traditional model of competing with other media. We don’t hoard our information; we make the original documents available with our news stories. Readers can verify the truth of what we have reported themselves. Like a wire service, WikiLeaks reports stories that are often picked up by other media outlets. We encourage this. We believe the world’s media should work together as much as possible to bring stories to a broad international readership.

1.4 How WikiLeaks verifies its news stories

We assess all news stories and test their veracity. We send a submitted document through a very detailed examination a procedure. Is it real? What elements prove it is real? Who would have the motive to fake such a document and why? We use traditional investigative journalism techniques as well as more modern rtechnology-based methods. Typically we will do a forensic analysis of the document, determine the cost of forgery, means, motive, opportunity, the claims of the apparent authoring organisation, and answer a set of other detailed questions about the document. We may also seek external verification of the document For example, for our release of the Collateral Murder video, we sent a team of journalists to Iraq to interview the victims and observers of the helicopter attack. The team obtained copies of hospital records, death certificates, eye witness statements and other corroborating evidence supporting the truth of the story. Our verification process does not mean we will never make a mistake, but so far our method has meant that WikiLeaks has correctly identified the veracity of every document it has published.

Publishing the original source material behind each of our stories is the way in which we show the public that our story is authentic. Readers don’t have to take our word for it; they can see for themselves. In this way, we also support the work of other journalism organisations, for they can view and use the original documents freely as well. Other journalists may well see an angle or detail in the document that we were not aware of in the first instance. By making the documents freely available, we hope to expand analysis and comment by all the media. Most of all, we want readers know the truth so they can make up their own minds.

1.5 The people behind WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks is a project of the Sunshine Press. It’s probably pretty clear by now that WikiLeaks is not a front for any intelligence agency or government despite a rumour to that effect. This rumour was started early in WikiLeaks’ existence, possibly by the intelligence agencies themselves. WikiLeaks is an independent global group of people with a long standing dedication to the idea of a free press and the improved transparency in society that comes from this. The group includes accredited journalists, software programmers, network engineers, mathematicians and others.

To determine the truth of our statements on this, simply look at the evidence. By definition, intelligence agencies want to hoard information. By contrast, WikiLeaks has shown that it wants to do just the opposite. Our track record shows we go to great lengths to bring the truth to the world without fear or favour.

The great American president Thomas Jefferson once observed that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We believe the journalistic media plays a key role in this vigilance.

1.6 Anonymity for sources

As far as we can ascertain, WikiLeaks has never revealed any of its sources. We can not provide details about the security of our media organisation or its anonymous drop box for sources because to do so would help those who would like to compromise the security of our organisation and its sources. What we can say is that we operate a number of servers across multiple international jurisdictions and we we do not keep logs. Hence these logs can not be seized. Anonymization occurs early in the WikiLeaks network, long before information passes to our web servers. Without specialized global internet traffic analysis, multiple parts of our organisation must conspire with each other to strip submitters of their anonymity.

However, we also provide instructions on how to submit material to us, via net cafes, wireless hot spots and even the post so that even if WikiLeaks is infiltrated by an external agency, sources can still not be traced. Because sources who are of substantial political or intelligence interest may have their computers bugged or their homes fitted with hidden video cameras, we suggest that if sources are going to send WikiLeaks something very sensitive, they do so away from the home and work.

A number of governments block access to any address with WikiLeaks in the name. There are ways around this. WikiLeaks has many cover domains, such as https://destiny.mooo.com, that don’t have the organisation in the name. It is possible to write to us or ask around for other cover domain addresses. Please make sure the cryptographic certificate says wikileaks.org .

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