A record of some of Wikileaks’ key document releases and some aspects of Julian Assange’s persecution.
April: WikiLeaks releases Collateral Murder, a classified US military video showing a helicopter gunship slaying eighteen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad, including two Reuters journalists and their rescuers, thus documenting a war crime.
July: WikiLeaks publishes the Afghan War Logs, a collection of over 75,000 documents, revealing information on unreported killings of hundreds of civilians by coalition forces, increased Taliban attacks, and involvement by Pakistan and Iran in the insurgency.
August: during his visit to Sweden, Julian becomes the subject of sexual assault allegations. The case was investigated and the most serious allegation was immediately found to be baseless. However, the case was later re-opened by another prosecutor.
October: WikiLeaks publishes the Iraq War Logs, exposing numerous cases of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqi police and soldiers, as well as proof of the US government’s involvement in the deaths and maiming of more than 200,000 people in Iraq. The War Logs showed the true number of civilian deaths in Iraq and is the most detailed record of war to date.
November: Wikileaks begins to publish Cablegate, now the Public Library of US Diplomacy, a growing collection of 3,326,538 diplomatic cables from 274 consulates and embassies from 1966 to 2010. PLUSD documents 50 years of US diplomatic relations across the globe, its activities, its component corporations, its allies and its enemies.
December: Following the release of the first batch of US diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange are denounced as “terrorists” by several politicians and media commentators. Former US vice-president Joe Biden branded Julian a “high-tech terrorist” while prominent Republican Sarah Palin called him “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands”, urging his immediate capture by any means necessary. Fox News commentators called WikiLeaks a terrorist organisation, asking the US government to move immediately and aggressively against it. In an interview with CBC, Professor Tom Flanagan suggested President Obama have WikiLeaks director Julian Assange assassinated, saying, “Obama should put out a contract and use a drone, or something…”
December: Julian is arrested at a London police station on 7 December 2010, following a European arrest warrant from Sweden relating to sexual allegations. He appears in court the same day, saying he intends to fight his extradition to Sweden in order to avoid extradition to the US where he would be prosecuted. Julian is denied bail and remains in custody until 14 December, when he is released on house arrest.
In 2010, following WikiLeaks’ publication of the Iraq and Afghan War Logs and State Department diplomatic cables, several major financial institutions, including Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union, refuse to process donations to WikiLeaks, cutting off 95% of its revenue. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights openly criticises the extra-legal financial blockade against WikiLeaks, as do the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.
April: Wikileaks releases the Guantanamo Files, exposing systematic and routine violations of the Geneva Conventions and abuse of 800 prisoners as young as 14 and as old as 89 at Guantanamo Bay.
June: Julian seeks political asylum at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, days after the Supreme Court rejects the last of his appeals against extradition to Sweden. Julian and supporters argue that his removal to Sweden would be followed by a potential extradition to the US, likely on Espionage Act charges, where he could face the death penalty. On 19 June 2012, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño announces that Julian has applied for political asylum, that his government is considering the request, and Julian is at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
August: Ecuador invokes international law in recognising the political persecution of Julian and grants him the status of political refugee, judging his life to be at grave risk. Ecuador’s decision is backed by the Union of South American Nations countries and ALBA.
July: The Syria Files are published, providing an extraordinary insight into the Assad government through over two million emails from 680 Syrian political figures, ministries and associated companies and the regime’s international security contracts.
December: A court ruling finds that the US treatment of Khaled El-Masri amounts to torture and that he had been effectively disappeared by the US and Macedonian authorities. El-Masri, a Lebanese-born German citizen, was seized in Macedonia in 2003, transferred to Kabul as part of the US “Extraordinary Rendition” program and detained for four months before being released without any charges on a roadside in Albania. He took his case to the European Court of Human Rights, using six cables released by WikiLeaks in evidence.
Major trade agreements TPP, TTIP & TISA – drafted and negotiated in secret without proper democratic oversight – are made public when WikiLeaks publishes multiple draft chapters and negotiating positions, fueling social justice and fair trade movements. The documents are published in multiple releases over 2013, 2015 and 2016. The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are now stalled, while Trade in Service Agreement (TiSA) remains classified.
September: The Minton Report, a scientific study commissioned by oil trading company Trafigura, is released by WikiLeaks, detailing how the Dutch multinational had dumped toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, affecting 108,000 people and “capable of causing severe human health effects.” The report had been suppressed through a super injunction, which was later abandoned as the company’s lawyers gave up on attempts to keep it secret.
June: The Saudi foreign ministry files, passed to WikiLeaks, reveal, among other things, that Britain conducted secret vote-trading deals with Saudi Arabia to ensure both states were elected to the UN human rights council.
July: The NSA World Leaders Targets: a number of releases in July 2015 and February 2016, documenting NSA targets, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s meetings with Heads of State, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Ministers Berlusconi and Netanyahu, President Hollande, the Japanese cabinet, UNHCR and WTO officials.
February: Central African Republic mining files reveal mining operations conducted by Western and Chinese companies in the CAR that escape responsibility for environmental consequences. The files contain detailed maps of mining rights, mining contracts with illegal kickbacks and secret investigative reports.
February: the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concludes in a published report that Julian has been subject to arbitrary detention by the UK and Swedish governments since 7 December 2010, including his time in prison on conditional bail and in the Ecuadorian embassy, and that he was “entitled to his freedom of movement and to compensation.”
July: The Democratic National Committee Leaks consist of 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the US Democratic National Party leadership, which result in the resignation of five top officials who had stacked the deck against one of the two Democratic candidates, Bernie Sanders, to favour Hillary Clinton.
November: After receiving criticism from other Swedish law practitioners, the Swedish prosecutor, haing finally agreed to interrogate Julian in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, begins interviews on 14 November 2016.
December: WikiLeaks releases 2,420 documents originating from various agencies of the German government, including the BND and Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
March: WikiLeaks begins publishing Vault 7, detailing activities and capabilities of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to perform electronic surveillance and cyber warfare. The files include details on the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and software capabilities, such as the ability to compromise cars, smart TVs, web browsers and operating systems of most smartphones, including products such as Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which can be turned into covert microphones.
April: CIA Director Mike Pompeo calls WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service” and says “we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.”
May: The Swedish authorities drop their investigation against Julian. However he still faces arrest if he leaves the Embassy building in Knightsbridge, London, for breaching his former bail conditions in the UK when he entered Ecuadorian Embassy.
September: The Russia Spy files begin to be released in September 2017, consisting of over 650,000 critical documents relating to Russia under Vladimir Putin, including releases about surveillance contractors in Russia.
October: CIA director Mike Pompeo further describes Wikileaks as an “enormous threat” and states that the US is “working to take down” the organisation.
December: Julian is granted Ecuadorian citizenship.
January: As Julian’s health deteriorates, doctors examining him call for him to be granted safe passage to hospital.
February: A UK judge rules that the arrest warrant against Julian should be maintained, meaning that he continues to face arrest if he leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy. The ruling comes a day after it was revealed that Swedish prosecutors attempted to close their investigation in 2013, but British prosecutors dissuaded them from doing so.
March: the new government in Ecuador unilaterally imposes new conditions on Julian that prevent him from having visitors and receiving telephone calls and other electronic communications, permitting him only to meet with his lawyers. Numerous public figures issue statements in support of Julian, calling for Ecuador to #ReconnectJulian and end his isolation. At least four open letters from civil society advocates around the world are sent to the Ecuadorian government, calling for an end to Julian’s isolation conditions. More than 87,000 supporters signed a petition launched by Brian Eno and Yanis Varoufakis, hosted by DiEM25.
March: Ecuador’s move to cut off Julian’s communications occurs one day after a high level US military visit to Ecuador “to discuss security cooperation”.
April: The US and Ecuador sign a new military cooperation agreement.
April: The Democratic National Committee files a lawsuit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign, and various individuals it alleges participated in the plot to hack its email servers and disseminate the contents during the 2016 election. The DNC also sues WikiLeaks for its role in publishing the hacked materials, though it does not allege that WikiLeaks participated in the hacking or knew about it in advance; its sole role, according to the DNC’s lawsuit, was publishing the hacked emails. According to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Trevor Timm, writing for The Intercept, the DNC lawsuit poses a serious threat to media freedom in the US.
May: Reports about Julian’s stay in Ecuadorian embassy being in jeopardy mount. CNN reports that the situation has become “unusually bad” and that Julian’s refuge in the embassy may end “any day now.”
May: A ruling from the Inter-American Court on Human Rights ruled that states granting asylum must provide safe passage to asylees in embassies, in effect setting out Ecuador’s obligations in relation to Julian.
June: US Vice President Mike Pence visits Ecuador, where the case of Julian Assange is raised in a meeting with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno. Before his visit, ten Democratic Senators send a letter to Pence urging him to address the issue “at a time when Wikileaks continues its efforts to undermine democratic processes globally”.
July: Media reports suggest that the UK and Ecuador are seeking to reach a “high level” agreement to breach Julian’s asylum by handing him over to the UK police to be arrested.
October: Ecuador unilaterally imposes further restrictions on Julian in a new “Protocol”. This includes explicit threats to revoke Julian’s asylum if he, or any visitors, breach or are perceived to breach, any of the 28 “rules” in the protocol. The “protocol” forbids Julian from undertaking journalism and expressing his opinions, under threat of losing his asylum. The rules also state that the embassy can seize Julian’s property or his visitors’ property and hand these to the UK police, and report visitors to the UK authorities.