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WikiLeaks - Defend WikiLeaks Defend WikiLeaks
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How WikiLeaks works

WikiLeaks is a transparency organisation and online publisher founded in 2006 by Julian Assange. It reveals censored and restricted materials, specialising in large data sets and has published over 10 million documents with a perfect record of authenticity.

WikiLeaks receives censored and restricted documents anonymously after Julian created the first anonymous secure online submission system for documents from journalistic sources. For years it was the only such system of its kind, but such a dropbox is now a staple of many major news and human rights organisations, with versions such as SecureDrop. The documents released by WikiLeaks have shown the inner workings of governments, corporations, trade deals, wars, and much more.

Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks to:

“bring important news and information to the public… One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.”

Key points about WikiLeaks:

  • WikiLeaks documents have been cited in tens of thousands of articles and academic papers.
  • WikiLeaks releases have been used in numerous court cases promoting human rights and human rights defenders.
  • WikiLeaks has contractual relationships and secure communications paths to more than 100 major media organisations from around the world. This gives WikiLeaks sources negotiating power, impact and technical protections that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve.

Major WikiLeaks publications from 2006-2018

WikiLeaks first began publishing source documents in December 2006 when it released documents on Somalia. One of its first major releases was the a copy of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp’s 2003 Standard Operating Procedures for the US Army. WikiLeaks soon released allegations of illegality by the Swiss Bank Julius Baer, Sarah Palin’s Yahoo emails, the secret bibles of Scientology and the membership list of the far-right British National Party.

In 2010, WikiLeaks came to global attention by publishing tens of thousands of classified documents from the United States, from the US Army’s helicopter gunners in ‘Collateral Murder’ to the Afghan War Diaries, the Iraq War Logs to “Cablegate”, the State Department diplomatic cables. This was followed in 2011 by the “Gitmo Files” – documents on 767 of the 779 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.

From 2012-15, WikiLeaks published the “Global Intelligence Files” (5 million emails from intelligence contractor Stratfor), two million files from Syrian political elites, the “Saudi Cables” (500,000 files from the Saudi Foreign Ministry) as well as material on Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnerships trade deals.

In 2016, WikiLeaks published the “DNC Leaks” – over 50,000 emails and attachments from the US Democratic National Committee – and the “Podesta Emails” – 58,660 emails from Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta.

This was followed in 2017 by the publication of “Spy Files: Russia” and, most notably the “Vault 7” series – which exposes CIA hacking tools in the biggest leak in the CIA’s history. In 2018, WikiLeaks released files on Amazon and on a secret arms deal in the Middle East

This is a snapshot of some WikiLeaks releases. A full list can be viewed here.

List of major WikiLeaks releases

  • 26 December 2006 – Inside Somalia and the Union of Islamic Courts
  • 7 November 2007 – Guantanamo Bay Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedure manual
  • 20 February 2009 – Scientology Secret Bibles
  • 4 September 2009 – Minton report: Trafigura toxic dumping along the Ivory Coast
  • 5 April 2010 – Collateral Murder: Video of civilians & journalists being gunned down by a US military helicopter in Baghdad
  • 25 July 2010 – Afghan War Diaries: 91,000 classified US documents from the War in Afghanistan covering 2004-2010
  • 22 October 2010 – Iraq War Logs: 391,000 classified US documents from the War in Iraq covering 2004-2009
  • 28 November 2010 – Cablegate: 250,000 US diplomatic cables from 1966-2010
  • 25 April 2011 – Gitmo Files: Files on 767 of the 779 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay
  • 1 December 2011 – Spy Files: Documents exposing 160 companies in the mass surveillance industry
  • 27 February 2012 – Global Intelligence Files: 5 million emails from intelligence contractor Stratfor
  • 5 July 2012 – Syria Files: 2.3 million emails from Syrian political elites
  • 19 June 2015 – Saudi Cables: 500,000 cables & Foreign Ministry documents from the Saudi Government
  • 16 November 2015 – Final Texts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal
  • 25 May 2016 – Documents from the Trade in Services Agreement trade deal
  • 22 July 2016 – DNC Leaks: 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments from the US Democratic National Committee
  • 7 October 2016 – The Podesta Emails: 58,660 emails from Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta
  • 1 December 2016 – German BND-NSA Inquiry Exhibits: 90 GB of information relating to the BND-NSA Inquiry
  • 25 November 2017 – Yemen Files: more than 500 documents from the US embassy in Sana’a, Yemen
  • 16 February 2017 –  CIA espionage orders for the 2012 French presidential election
  • 7 March 2017 – Vault 7: Series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
  • 28 September 2018 – Secret document concerning a dispute over a £3.6bn Middle Eastern arms deal
  • 11 October 2018 – Amazon Atlas: confidential document from cloud computing provider Amazon


WikiLeaks, its publisher and its journalists have won many awards, including:

  • The Economist New Media Award (2008)
  • The Amnesty New Media Award (2009)
  • TIME Magazine Person of the Year, People’s Choice (highest global vote) (2010)
  • The Sam Adams Award for Integrity (2010)
  • The National Union of Journalists Journalist of the Year (Hrafnsson) (2011)
  • The Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal (2011)
  • The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (2011)
  • The Blanquerna Award for Best Communicator (2011)
  • The Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism (2011)
  • The Voltaire Award for Free Speech (2011)
  • The International Piero Passetti Journalism Prize of the National Union of Italian Journalists (2011)
  • The Jose Couso Press Freedom Award (2011)
  • The Privacy International Hero of Privacy (2012)
  • The Global Exchange Human Rights People’s Choice Award (2013)
  • The Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts (2013)
  • The Brazillian Press Association Human Rights Award (2013)
  • The Kazakstan Union of Journalists Top Prize (2014)
  • The Willy Brandt Award for Political Courage (Harrison) (2015)

WikiLeaks has also been nominated for the UN Mandela Prize (2015) and, in six consecutive years, for the Nobel Peace Prize (2010-2015).