Most of us wouldn’t have heard of WikiLeaks up until a few weeks ago, then all hell broke loose. As it stands today, wikileaks.org, the original website is down and founder Julian Assange, has been arrested and denied bail by the British authorities, after a European Arrest Warrant was issued by Sweden in an alleged sexual assault investigation. I have to admit, that up until the last week or so, I knew very little about WikiLeaks. I knew they existed, but besides knowing what they did, knew very little else. That was until 28 November 2010.
WikiLeaks started announcing from the 22 November 2010, via Twitter that they would be releasing cables from a collection of over 250,000 leaked United States embassy cables, in what is the largest set of secret and confidential documents to have ever been released into the public domain. Even just before the scheduled release of the the cables, there were DDoS attacks on their servers, which were alleged to have caused an additional 4-6 Gb/s of traffic to their site. The release went ahead as scheduled though with an initial 243 cables being released, along with simultaneous press coverage from El País (Spain), Le Monde (France), Der Spiegel (Germany), The Guardian (United Kingdom), and The New York Times (United States). The plan is to release the cables over an extended period, for their full effect to be felt. Since the start, they have been releasing a steady flow of cables, with a break recently, possibly as a result of their various issues.
Browsing the cables available is a bit of a nightmare but The Guardian has an really awesome interactive database of all the cables released so far, which splits them into several categories and sub-categories. The actual cables are available to read and some of them are pretty scary stuff, with many international and domestic issues covered, ranging from nuclear weapons to the financial crisis and even specific characteristics of ministers and diplomats.
Since the first cables were released, PayPal, Mastercard and Visa have stopped payments to WikiLeaks and Swiss Bank Post Finance have closed their accounts. Yet each of them maintain it is nothing to do with politics, and have some bullshit story about it violates rules, blah, blah. On top of this several other companies have begun distancing themselves from WikiLeaks, including Amazon; even Twitter seems to have censored their trending topics.
Their founder and editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, has also had a really bad day at the office. It started with the news that Sweden were looking into issuing a warrant for his arrest. He later turned himself in to British authorities and was subsequently denied bail, and will be jailed until 14 December 2010 for his extradition hearing. According to The Guardian article:
The first complainant, a Miss A, said she was the victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. The court heard Assange was alleged to have “forcefully” held her arms and used his bodyweight to hold her down. The second charge alleged he “sexually molested” her by having sex without using a condom, when it was her “express wish” that one should be used.
A third charge claimed Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on 18 August.
A fourth charge, relating to a Miss W, alleged that on 17 August, he “improperly exploited” the fact she was asleep to have sex with her without a condom
Am I the only one that thinks that sounds a bit dodgy? If it is in fact not just trumped up charges, which I think they are, I apologise, but seriously? The US are also waiting for this to finish, so that they can find some charge from the US Espionage Act or something that will stick, but will be difficult due to their First Amendment.
As a contrast, and while I understand that it is by no means the actual winner, as it stands, he is the current favourite in TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year poll with a average of 91 out of 100 rating. Reuters even wrote an article about him today which illustrates the mixed feelings about the man. WikiLeaks has turned out not to be just one man, as they have promised to continue releasing cables as time goes by. They have not left themselves vulnerable I might add either; a heavily encrypted 1.4GB file was released via torrent and has been downloaded by thousands of supporters and if they feel they are losing the battle and are unable to hold against the pressure, a key will be released which will open the flood gates.
The whole saga has turned into The People vs several world Goverments and their puppet Corporations. I won’t even try guess where this is going but things will never be the same after the dust settles. The amount of information out there is mind-boggling and my intention of this post is to simply show what I have found and to make some sense of it… which is appearing impossible I might add. Today alone there were at one stage nearly 3000 sources covering the stories relating to WikiLeaks or Julian Assange and as of 7 December 2010, at 20:12 GMT, Wikileaks was mirrored on 1005 sites.
Will it turn out to be nothing but a huge bubble? I definitely don’t know, but it’s one hell of ride to be on.
- WikiLeaks: Mirrors List – http://wikileaks.cc/mirrors.html
- WikiLeaks: Entire WikiLeaks Archive – http://wikileaks.cc/file/wikileaks_archive.7z
- The Guardian: Interactive Database – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-wikileaks
- The Guardian: Data Downloads & Analysis – http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/nov/29/wikileaks-cables-data
- Wikipedia: Current Events Page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_diplomatic_cables_leak
- Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/wikileaks
- Twitter – http://twitter.com/wikileaks
- Julian Assange arrested, reports say (guardian.co.uk)
- WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Denied Bail (mashable.com)
- WikiLeaks to keep releasing cables despite Assange arrest (guardian.co.uk)
- Factbox: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested (reuters.com)
- Julian Assange refused bail over rape allegations (guardian.co.uk)
- WikiLeaks: US Senator Joe Lieberman suggests New York Times could be investigated (guardian.co.uk)
- WikiLeaks to Continue Releasing Cables Despite Assange Arrest (mashable.com)