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What is Wikileaks?
WikiLeaks is an international new media non-profit organization that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources and news leaks. Its website, launched in 2006, is run by The Sunshine Press. Within a year of its launch, the site claimed its database had grown to more than 1.2 million documents. The organization has described itself as having been founded by Chinese dissidents, as well as journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the United States, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its director.
WikiLeaks has received praise as well as criticism. The organization won a number of awards, including The Economist’s 2008 New Media Award. In June 2009, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange won Amnesty International’s UK Media Award, in the category “New Media”, for the 2008 publication of “Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances”, a report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights about police killings in Kenya. In May 2010, New York City’s Daily News listed WikiLeaks as first in a ranking of “websites that could totally change the news”. Julian Assange was named the Readers’ Choice for TIME’s Person of the Year for 2010. Several U.S. government officials have criticized WikiLeaks for exposing state secrets, harming national security, and compromising international diplomacy. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International criticized WikiLeaks for not adequately redacting the names of civilians working with the U.S. military. Some journalists have criticized the lack of editorial discretion when releasing thousands of documents at once and without sufficient analysis. Negative public reactions in the United States have characterized the organization as irresponsible, immoral, and illegal.
In April 2010, WikiLeaks posted video from a 2007 incident in which Iraqi civilians and journalists were killed by US forces, on a website called Collateral Murder. 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 for public review. 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. In November 2010, WikiLeaks began releasing U.S. State department diplomatic cables.
WikiLeaks was originally launched as a user-editable wiki site, but has progressively moved towards a more traditional publication model, and no longer accepts either user comments or edits. The site is available on multiple servers and different domain names following a number of denial-of-service attacks and its severance from different Domain Name System (DNS) providers.