News / USA

What Is WikiLeaks?

Doug Bernard
The military trial of U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning began Monday.  He is charged with violating the Espionage Act by knowingly leaking thousands of classified documents to the Wikileaks whistleblower website.

The documents, including sensitive State Department cables and classified military logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, comprised one of the largest breaches of security in U.S. history.

Shortly after Wikileaks began posting the material online in May 2010, Manning, an intelligence analyst serving in Iraq, was detained by military authorities and has been held in solitary confinement since. Although he has already admitted leaking the documents and pleaded guilty to some of the charges, his closely watched trial is expected to last the summer.

What Is Wikileaks?
  • International not-for-profit group that publishes anonymously-submitted material online.
  • Published leaks includes internal documents from the Church of Scientology, secret memos targeting corruption in the Kenyan government, Icelandic documents that contributed to that nation's banking collapse, and what appears to be a U.S. military video of a deadly Apache helicopter raid in Iraq in 2007.
  • Founder Julian Assange told VOA Wikileaks "aims to achieve just political reforms by getting out information that has been suppressed to the public.”

Is What Wikileaks Does Legal?
  • Many governments around the world, including the United States, have stated or suggested that Wikileaks has violated numerous security and espionage laws by publicly posting classified, in some case highly sensitive material.
  • Transparency advocates, such as Daniel Ellsberg and others, counter that citizens have a right to know about the activities of their governments, and that leaks are "extra-legal", or beyond the realm of law.
  • At the urging of the U.S. government, major credit card companies Visa and Mastercard and the PayPal service banned any contributions to Wikileaks.
"Free speech is what regulates government and what regulates law." - Julian Assange
Who Is Julian Assange?
  • Generally credited as the lead founder of the Wikileaks website, Julian Assange usually describes himself as merely editor-in-chief.
  • Was a hacker (under the pseudonyn MENDAX) and Internet freedom activist in his native Australia while young and authored several successful computer security protocols.
  • Left Australia when Wikileaks launched, travelling to a wide variety of nations in a secretive fashion until landing in England.
  • Sought and was granted asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy in London while facing extradiction to Sweden on charges there of sexual assault.

Who Is Bradley Manning?
  • Private in the U.S. Army, stationed in Iraq as an intelligence analyst before he was detained by authorities.
  • First alluded to stealing classified documents in online chats with hacker and journalist Adrian Lamo in 2010, telling Lamo "lets just say *someone* i know intimately well, has been penetrating US classified networks, mining data like the ones described … sorting the data, compressing it, encrypting it, and uploading it to a crazy white haired Aussie who can’t seem to stay in one country very long."
  • Since his detention in solitary confinement in Spring 2010, Manning has admitted to leaking thousands of diplomatic cables and military logs to Wikileaks.
  • Is currently facing 22 charges in court martial, including aiding the enemy. Manning has already pleaded guilty to 10 of those counts.

For more of VOA's extensive coverage of Wikileaks, including an interview with founder Julian Assange and the case for and against Private Bradley Manning, visit our Digital Frontiers blog.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid