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Iraq to NSA spying: The biggest revelations by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks | Julian Assange News

Iraq to NSA spying: The biggest revelations by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks | Julian Assange News

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On Monday, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was released from prison after fighting a legal battle spanning more than 14 years.

In 2006, Assange launched the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, a platform that allows users to anonymously submit secret, classified documents and videos. The most recent publication by the platform was in 2021.

The New York-based Nation magazine reported in January 2024 that Assange said WikiLeaks was no longer able to publish documents since potential whistleblowers were thwarted following his imprisonment, United States government surveillance and funding cuts.

During the years it functioned, the whistleblower platform published classified documents that had been never seen before – embarrassing governments, causing diplomatic standoffs and forcing policy changes.

Here is a look at 10 such leaks by the platform:

Report about toxic waste in the Ivory Coast

In 2009, WikiLeaks released the Minton Report that exposed how an internal report commissioned by Singapore-headquartered multinational company Trafigura concluded that its dumping of 540,000 litres of toxic waste, including harmful chemicals, in the Ivory Coast potentially led to “burns to the skin, eyes and lungs, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of consciousness and death”.

The United Nations reported that 108,000 people were affected by this dumping of waste.

Cablegate

In 2010, WikiLeaks started building out its Public Library of US Diplomacy (PLUSD), which is a growing collection of 3,326,538 US diplomatic cables between American diplomats posted to 274 consulates and embassies from 1966 to 2010, and their colleagues and bosses, including back home at the State Department.

In the first round of these leaks, 250,000 cables were released to the public – arguably the single largest such dump of confidential documents ever released.

The leaks included embarrassing details of how US diplomats perceived some of their foreign counterparts and nuggets of conversations where foreign officials, including many in high positions today, expressed frustrations with their own governments.

Afghanistan war files

In October 2010, the whistleblower site released 90,000 classified documents on the US war in Afghanistan.

The United States launched the Afghanistan war in 2001, following the September 11 attacks that year, finally withdrawing its forces from the country in 2021.

The documents painted a picture of the war – and the US struggle against the Taliban – that was very different from the public posture of confidence adopted by Washington.

Iraq war files

Also in October 2010, WikiLeaks made public almost 400,000 secret US files on the Iraq war.

In 2003, the US government under President George W Bush invaded Iraq.

The documents, from 2004 to 2009, showed that the civilian deaths in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were much higher than the numbers being reported. The leaks represented the largest security breaches of their kind in US military history.

Collateral murder – Iraq helicopter video

Among the most prominent of WikiLeaks revelations, in April 2010, was the release of video footage showing a US Apache helicopter attack which killed a dozen unarmed people, including two Reuters journalists, Namir Noor Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The video, filmed from the chopper’s cockpit shows a US missile strike and shooting on a square in a Baghdad neighbourhood in July 2007, according to WikiLeaks.

The Guantanamo files

In April 2011, WikiLeaks released secret documents spanning thousands of pages to select US and European media outlets.

These documents unearthed how the Geneva Conventions were being violated routinely in the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The documents, dating from 2002 to 2008 showed the abuse of 800 prisoners, some of them as young as 14.

At least 150 of these prisoners were found to be innocent Afghans or Pakistanis who were rounded up as part of frantic intelligence gathering and then imprisoned for years, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and the so-called “war on terror”.

The Syria files

In July 2012, WikiLeaks began making public two million emails from 680 Syrian political figures and ministries working with the Bashar al-Assad regime between August 2006 to March 2012.

The emails unearthed the involvement of European companies in the surveillance and crackdown on Syrian civilians. One such company was Italian-government-owned Selex, which continued to expand its contract with the Syrian police, despite sanctions.

The emails also exposed how PR company Brown Lloyd James (BLJ) was paid to engineer a now-deleted Vogue article about al-Assad’s wife Asma, according to WikiLeaks.

NSA spying

In 2015, the whistleblower website released details of illegal intercepts from the US electronic spy organisation, National Security Agency (NSA).

In a series of publications released from 2015 to 2017, WikiLeaks said the US, using the NSA, was also routinely spying on foreign officials from Japan, the European Union, Israel, Germany and Brazil.

Additionally, the whistleblower said the NSA intercepted communications between former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

WikiLeaks said that the NSA was not only spying on international politicians but also civilians. In 2017, it tweeted that the NSA could hack Pakistan’s mobile networks.

Sony Pictures hack

In 2015, WikiLeaks released at least 170,000 emails and more than 20,000 documents from a 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The leak was around the same time Sony was set to release the film about a fictional American plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The emails also revealed that female celebrities such as Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were paid less than their male counterparts in the 2013 crime comedy film American Hustle.

US Democratic Party emails leaked

In 2016, WikiLeaks exposed 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the US Democratic Party national leadership.

The emails exposed that even though the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the party’s principal committee, pledged impartiality in the 2016 presidential race, it appeared to act against Bernie Sanders in favour of Hillary Clinton.

The leaks resulted in the resignations of five top DNC officials including the chair, CFO, CEO, communications director and finance director. Clinton accused WikiLeaks and Assange of colluding with Russia to raise questions about the credibility of the US election process. She lost the 2016 presidential race to Donald Trump.





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