WikiLeaks is a whistleblowing platform founded by Julian Assange. It was established to obtain and disseminate classified documents and data sets from anonymous sources and leakers.
“They started out saying they’re an open source intelligence agency, or an intelligence agency for the people,” said James Ball, an ex-WikiLeaks staffer-turned-critic who is also the author of “Post Truth.”
He added: “Same as the CIA or [Britain's] GCHQ find secrets for their governments, the idea was WikiLeaks would get them for everyone.”
Assange was accused of rape and sexual assault by two women in Sweden in 2010. He denies the accusations, but sought political asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden in 2012, and he remains there.
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He has said that he fears being eventually extradited to the U.S. because of the fallout from WikiLeaks’ release of classified U.S. documents.
"Intelligence agencies in the U.S. and outside have all said with a high degree of confidence that Russia was involved [in the 2016 email leaks]," Ball said. “But that’s not the same as saying Julian deliberately met up with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin in the embassy, and Putin said, ‘Leak this for me ...’ and he said ‘yes.’"
Ball said it’s more likely that Russia approached Assange with leaks via proxies claiming to be independent, unrelated hacking groups.
“And then he just doesn’t ask the awkward question, because he wants the stuff,” Ball hypothesized.
No. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which is run by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, has always been keen to distance itself from WikiLeaks.
The term "wiki" refers to a webpage where users can collaborate on edits and modify content directly on the site.
“The reason the 'wiki' is in there is that everyone would be able to report on it and look into them and actually edit WikiLeaks’ site,” Ball said. “They dropped that bit, so essentially it became a place that could publish leaks that other outlets wouldn’t, and let everyone access the raw documents.”