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This article is from:

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Wikileaks is a website running on modified Mediawiki software which will allow whistleblowers to anonymously release government and corporate documents, allegedly without possible retribution. It claims that postings are untraceable by anyone attempting to do so.


The site and its project were themselves secret, pre-launch, until their existence was disclosed by Steven Aftergood, editor of Secrecy News[1]. Wikileaks had approached Aftergood to serve on their advisory board. The site in part is being developed by Chinese government dissidents.[2] According to the Wikileaks website, their main targets for leaked disclosure are the former Soviet bloc, sub-Saharan Africa, and Middle Eastern nations, but they expect it to be used for leaks of information about Western governments and corporations.[3] All current staff, developers, or employees of Wikileaks are thought to be secret and unidentified as of January 2007.[4]

According to Wikileaks advisory board member "Julian Assange", the site was planned to go live in March 2007 but was unprepared for the media attention its ahead-of-schedule disclosure generated. Their advisory board includes members of the expatriate Russian and Tibetan refugee communities, reporters, a former US intelligence analyst, and cryptographers. There are no formal ties between Wikileaks and the Wikimedia Foundation. [5] The website has stated that they have over 1,200,000 leaked documents already that they are preparing to publish.[6] They have purportedly already done so with one document said to be written by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys of Somalia's radical Islamic Courts Union.[7] They also posted a 19 page analysis [8]

According to the group, Wikileaks will be "an uncensorable version of Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis."[9] Wikileaks developers have stated that there will be checks in place to keep the "completely anonymous" system from being flooded with false documents, porn, spam, and related things. All users will be able to comment on all documents, analyze them, and identify false material.[4] 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.[10] According to James Chen, an organizer of the site, traffic since its disclosure has increased from 8 Google searches to over 1,000,000 in the first two weeks.[11]

It has been observed that the existence of a project like Wikileaks can be of benefit and is needed, drawing comparisons to Daniel Ellsberg's leaking of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.[12] Additionally, at least in the United States, 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.[12] Whitley Strieber, author and journalist, has observed 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."[13]


Wikileaks is based on several software packages, including MediaWiki, Freenet, Tor, and PGP.[14]


Steven Aftergood, of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, said in an interview:

There’s a difference in unauthorized disclosure from an authoritarian state versus disclosure from a democracy. In a democratic system, people have the opportunity to define their own disclosure standards. If you violate those standards or encourage others to do so then you are in effect undermining the democratic process...[15]

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.”[15]

Bill Thompson, writing on the BBC News website, described Wikileaks as "basically a dumping ground for anyone to place documents that they want to see made public." and "on reflection I am not sure the site is a good idea. Even if it is a good idea I do not trust the people behind it." [16]

See also

  • Classified information
  • Freedom of information legislation
  • Open government
  • Secrecy
  • Cryptome


  1. ^ Steven Aftergood "Wikileaks and untracable document disclosure"
  2. ^ Elizabeth Williamson "Freedom of Information, the Wiki Way: Site to Allow Anonymous Posts of Government Documents", Washington Post, January 15, 2007.
  3. ^ Referenced via UCLA. "CHINA: Cyber-dissidents launch WikiLeaks, a site for whistleblowers", South China Morning Post, January 11, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Paul Marks. "How to leak a secret and not get caught", New Scientist, January 13, 2007.
  5. ^ Yahoo! News "Chinese cyber-dissidents launch WikiLeaks, a site for whistleblowers", Yahoo! News, January 11, 2007.
  6. ^ "Wikileaks and Untraceable Document Disclosuree", Now Public News, January 11, 2007.
  7. ^ "Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys zipped document",, December 29, 2006.
  8. ^ H.H.Harpoon "Inside the Somali Civil War and the Islamic Courts",, December 29, 2006.
  9. ^ CBC News "Website wants to take whistleblowing online", Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, January 11, 2007.
  10. ^ "Leak secrets trouble free", retrieved January 15, 2007.
  11. ^ Jacob Cherian "Wikileaks To Allow Anonymous Government Document Posts", All Headline News; retrieved January 15, 2007.
  12. ^ a b Scott Bradner "Wikileaks: a site for exposure", Linuxworld, January 18, 2007. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
  13. ^ Staff Reports "WHISTLEBLOWER WEBSITE COMING", Free-Market News Network , January 18, 2007. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
  14. ^ " FAQ", retrieved January 11, 2007.
  15. ^ a b Daniel Friedman "Web site aims to post government secrets", Federal Times, January 4, 2007.
  16. ^ Bill Thompson "Who stands to gain from Wikileaks?", BBC News, March 13, 2007.

External links

  • Wikileaks Leak -(1)
    • Wikileaks Leak -(2)
  • Press coverage of Wikileaks
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