Editor's note: A new report by The New York Times suggests WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange timed the release of Democratic National Committee emails to harm Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency. In June, Assange was interviewed on ITV and said WikiLeaks had obtained "emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication," but the journalist appeared to assume Assange was referring to emails from Clinton's time as secretary of state, The Times reports. In an interview this week, Assange told another news program he timed the DNC email release to coincide with the Democratic National Convention, but said he didn't know the source. There have been several news reports citing officials and cybersecurity experts suggesting Russian state-sponsored hackers could be behind the leak. - Stephanie
WikiLeaks/ˈwɪkiliːks/ is an international non-profit journalistic organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. Its website, initiated in 2006 in Iceland by the organisation Sunshine Press, claimed a database of more than 1.2 million documents within a year of its launch. Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its founder, editor-in-chief, and director. Kristinn Hrafnsson, Joseph Farrell, and Sarah Harrison are the only other publicly known and acknowledged associates of Julian Assange. Hrafnsson is also a member of Sunshine Press Productions along with Assange, Ingi Ragnar Ingason, and Gavin MacFadyen.
The group has released a number of significant documents that have become front-page news items. Early releases included documentation of equipment expenditures and holdings in the Afghanistan war and a report informing a corruption investigation in Kenya. In April 2010, WikiLeaks published gunsight footage from the 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrike in which Iraqi journalists were among those killed by an AH-64 Apache helicopter, known as the Collateral Murder video. 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 to the public. In October 2010, the group released a set of almost 400,000 documents called the "Iraq War Logs" in coordination with major commercial media organisations. This allowed the mapping of 109,032 deaths in "significant" attacks by insurgents in Iraq that had been reported to Multi-National Force – Iraq, including about 15,000 that had not been previously published. In April 2011, WikiLeaks began publishing 779 secret files relating to prisoners detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
In November 2010, WikiLeaks collaborated with major global media organisations to release U.S. State Department diplomatic "cables" in redacted format. On 1 September 2011, it became public that an encrypted version of WikiLeaks' huge archive of unredacted U.S. State Department cables had been available via BitTorrent for months and that the decryption key (similar to a password) was available to those who knew where to find it. WikiLeaks blamed the breach on its former publication partner, the UK newspaper The Guardian, and that newspaper's journalist David Leigh, who revealed the key in a book published in February 2011. The Guardian argued that WikiLeaks was to blame since they had given the impression that the encrypted file was temporary, taking it offline seven months before the book was published. The German periodical Der Spiegel reported a more complex story involving errors on both sides. The incident resulted in widely expressed fears that the information released could endanger innocent lives.