WikiLeaks is an international not-for-profit organization that publishes secret information and leaks news and classified media – all provided by anonymous sources.
The WikiLeaks website debuted in Iceland in 2006 by the organization Sunshine Press – a combination of computer programmers, academics and journalists – and claims to have amassed a database of 10 million documents in the ten years since its launch.
National Public Radio covered Sunshine Press in 2010. After reviewing a shock video from a 2007 classified U.S. military video showing a U.S. Army helicopter crew shooting civilians on a Baghdad street, the article continued:
“In addition to this video, WikiLeaks published the emails at the heart of the Climategate controversy and pager messages sent in New York City on the morning of September the 11th.”
“Pager messages sent in NYC on the morning of 9/11?!?”
Whatever happened to these stories?
Also in 2007, WikiLeaks posted the procedures manual for Camp Delta, the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay.
In 2010, WikiLeaks had two main spokespeople: Australian Julian Assange and German Daniel Schmitt:
Funding came both from online readers and private donors. In a WikiLeaks Witness Statement dated February 23, 2012, Julian Assange described himself as “Director of Sunshine Press Productions ehf, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Wikileaks, and a free press campaigner.” He went on to explain:
“Wikileaks is a non-profit media organization which seeks to combine high-end security technologies with journalism and ethical principles to bring previously unpublished news and information of political, historical, social or ethical importance to the public. 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 organizations around the globe, instead of following the traditional model of competing with other media.”
By 2010, WikiLeaks had established operations in Sweden, a country where journalists who disclose their sources are breaking the law. The founders and core group at WikiLeaks wanted to avoid being subpoenaed and forced to reveal who told what to whom.
Throughout its history, WikiLeaks has been supported and hosted by the Swedish ISP PeRiQuito (PRQ). The BBC quoted the PRQ website, in December 2010, in reference to WikiLeaks:
“If it is legal in Sweden, we will host it, and will keep it up regardless of any pressure to take it down.”
After Amazon, Mastercard, Visa and PayPal all took measures to drive WikiLeaks out of business – even non-profits have expenses – Assange responded by encouraging volunteers worldwide to set up “mirror” servers of the site, in order to protect its operations and sources.
WikiLeaks then partnered with international news organizations such as the British Guardian, German Der Spiegel, and the US New York Times to help fact-checking and distribution of the material.
On July 25, 2010, WikiLeaks posted more than 90,000 classified documents related to the Afghanistan war.
A month later, on August 20, 2010, Swedish prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Assange based on allegations of sexual assault from two female WikiLeaks volunteers. Assange was visiting Sweden that month to speak at a conference when he met the two women and had sex with them. He denied any assault occurred. The next day, the Swedish prosecutor’s office rescinded the arrest warrant.
Notwithstanding, ten days later, Stockholm police questioned Assange, informing him of the charges against him. On November 20, 2010, the Stockholm Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Assange. On December 7, 2010, Assange turned himself in to authorities in London, England, where he was remanded into custody.
On December 16, 2010, Assange was released on bail and put on house arrest. After unsuccessfully appealing a February 2011 British court decision to extradite Assange to Sweden, the WikiLeaks founder requested political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on June 19, 2012.
Two months after that event, on August 16, 2012, Ecuador granted asylum to Assange.
Assange continued his appeals to dismiss the original arrest warrant alleging sexual assault. Although the Swedish statute of limitations expired for the allegations of sexual molestation and coercion, the allegation of suspicion of rape stood and could be investigated until 2020, under Swedish law.
On September 16, 2016, a Swedish appeals court upheld the arrest warrant alleging rape – and, for the eighth time, denied Assange freedom from political asylum.
Assange’s leaving the embassy would mean his extradition to the United States. Given that President Obama and other top-level US government officials, in 2013, labeled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden a “traitor,” you can understand why Mr. Assange wanted to avoid detention in the US.
After all, WikiLeaks had published secret information about the goings-on at Guantanamo Bay and other groups that routinely use torture to get the information they want. Assange knows that the United States won’t be rolling out the red carpet to greet him, if brought here for legal investigation.
Finally, on May 19, 2017, Swedish prosecutors dropped their nearly seven-year legal investigation of rape allegations against Assange. The Sun reported that “Sweden’s director of public prosecutions Marianne Ny has decided to drop the case. Ms. Ny officially revoked the arrest warrant on May 19, 2017, saying that ‘all possibilities to conduct the investigation were exhausted’.
Ny also said that the case could be taken up again if Assange visited Sweden before August 2020. “If he…makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately.”
All during Assange’s confinement to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, WikiLeaks continued to drop mortar after bombshell, from exposing US State Department classified diplomatic “cables” in 2010 to publishing “emails and other documents from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta suggesting impropriety against fellow Democratic Party candidate senator Bernie Sanders, among other issues,” according to Wikipedia.
Although free from Swedish extradition, Assange was still subject to a British arrest warrant for breaching his bail conditions in 2012.
Ecuador made Assange a naturalized citizen on December 12, 2017, hoping to shield him from extradition to the US, where he fears facing the death penalty. A country that prides its defense of human rights, Ecuador has reinforced Assange’s political status as “protected.”
The most recent post on Julian Assange’s Twitter page is dated October 13, 2017:
“The US & UK governments continue their attempts to arrest me in violation of two UN rulings and their own laws (Sweden ceased).”
In breaking news, British Judge Emma Arbuthnot said she would rule in a hearing on February 13, 2018, “whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can have his arrest warrant, for breaching bail conditions, lifted on ‘public interest grounds.'”
Meanwhile, a report from The Guardian indicates that doctors warn that Assange’s health has been compromised by his years of confinement and demand his safe access to medical care:
“Our assessment reveals that he has had no access to sunlight, appropriate ventilation or outside space for over five and a half years. This has taken a considerable physical as well as psychological toll.”
Not everyone in the world has taken a dim view of WikiLeaks and its ground-breaking work. On May 10, 2011, Julian Assange received the Sydney Peace Medal in Australia. According to Britain’s Telegraph:
“The Sydney Peace Foundation said that it was making the award to recognize the need ‘for greater transparency and accountability of governments.'”
Freedom fighter and truth seekers everywhere are hoping the British courts will drop all charges against Julian Assange in the very near future. Let freedom ring.