WikiLeaks is an international, online, self-described not-for-profit organisation publishing submissions of secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous news sources and whistleblowers. Its website, launched in 2006 under the Sunshine Press organisation, 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 the company Sunshine Press Productions along with Assange, Ingi Ragnar Ingason and Gavin MacFadyen.
The group has released a number of significant documents which have become front-page news items. Early releases included documentation of equipment expenditures and holdings in the Afghanistan war and corruption 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 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 package 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 â€“ Iraq, including around 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 look. WikiLeaks blamed the breach on its former partner, 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 gave the impression that the decryption key was temporary (something not possible for a file decryption key). Der Spiegel reported a more complex story involving errors on both sides. The incident led to widely expressed fears that the information released could endanger innocent lives.