Five years ago this week, U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning was arrested in Kuwait and charged with leaking classified information. Weeks later, WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of internal logs from the war in Afghanistan. It was one of the largest leaks in U.S. military history. Major articles ran in The New York Times, Guardian, Der Spiegel and other outlets. Chelsea Manning, then known as Bradley, and Julian Assange soon became household names. While Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail, Assange has been living for the past three years inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has political asylum. Assange faces investigations in both Sweden and the United States. Here in the United States, a secret grand jury is investigating WikiLeaks for its role in publishing leaked Afghan and Iraq war logs and State Department cables. In Sweden, Assange is wanted for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct, though no charges have been filed. "Look at Thomas Drake, for example, NSA whistleblower ... The pretrial process was both the deterrent, the general deterrent, and it was the penalty," Assange said. "And the same thing is happening here in the WikiLeaks process, where we have no rights as a defendant because the formal trial hasn’t started yet. The same thing has happened with me here in this embassy in relation to the Swedish case: no charges, no trial, no ability to defend yourself, don’t even have a right to documents, because you’re not even a defendant."
On Wednesday, WikiLeaks added more than half a million U.S. diplomatic cables from 1978 to its Public Library of US Diplomacy database. The documents include diplomatic cables and other diplomatic communications from and to U.S. embassies and missions in nearly every country. "1978 actually set in progress many of the geopolitical elements that are playing out today," Assange said. "1978 was the beginning of the Iranian revolution … the Sandinista movement started in its popular form … the war period in Afghanistan began in 1978 and hasn’t stopped since."
WikiLeaks has begun hosting a new database called ICWatch, built by Transparency Toolkit. The site includes a searchable database of 27,000 LinkedIn profiles of people in the intelligence community. Organizers say the aim of the site is to "watch the watchers." WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange talks about how the database could be used to help identify individuals connected to the U.S. kill list, formally known as the Joint Prioritized Effects List, or JPEL.
In 2013, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks played a pivotal role in helping National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden leave Hong Kong for Russia. During the U.S. hunt for Snowden, Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was forced to land in Austria for 14 hours after Spain, France, Portugal and Italy closed their airspace under pressure from the United States over false rumors Snowden was on board. Assange gives the inside story on why that plane was targeted.
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