Julian Assange is an Editor and Journalist born in Queensland, Australia. After founding the nonprofit organisation WikiLeaks in 2006, he has continued to pave a new way of journalism by using a Whistleblower system to retrieve infomation. This allows anonymous people to submit news leaks and classified information to the site which are then fact checked and published. So far it has published over 10 million documents relating to corruption, war crimes etc. While all of Wikileaks releases have never been proven falsified or altered, statistically meaning they have a 100% accuracy.
Over the course of 2010, WikiLeaks published serveral leaks submitted by US Army Intelligence Analyst, Chelsea Manning. These included “Collateral Murder”, Afghanistan war logs, Iraq war logs and “Cablegate”. Most famously Collateral Murder exposed videos of airstrikes in 2009 on the East side of Baghdad, containing two Apache helicopters killing civilians and news reporters whom were believed to be terrorists. During the video pilots can be heard laughing and making jokes while engaging. The first strike killed nine adults, two were journalists. The second strike targeted a van of passers bye with two children aiding the wounded. Killed were two adults and seriously injuring the two children. The US governments initial statement listed that all adults were insurgents and that they did not know how these deaths took place.
These videos and documents were shared virally and created an embarrassment for the US, as well as questioning the morality and justification of the use of force by armed forces. The release of these documents put WikiLeaks on the map as an organisation, however unsurprisingly causing a stir up among government agencies.
Attention soon turned to Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange over the release of the documents. After releasing the documents to Wikileaks Chelsea also informed Adrian Lamo about her discoveries. Lamo then indirectly informed the US Criminal Information Command and Chelsea was arrested later that year. Later Lamo told Kevin Poulsen of Wired Magazine that he wouldn’t have informed the government “if lives weren't in danger”. One possible reasoning for this was that names were also leaked of people who cooperated with the US government, further down the line the Taliban stated that they aimed to execute afghan nationals whose names were leaked. However due to the severity of other leaked documents this was somewhat overlooked and the hacking community stated Lamo a “snitch”, he later died in 2018 from suspected drug abuse.
Chelsea was charged with 22 offences including “aiding the enemy” which could serve a life sentence. In 2013 she pleaded guilty to 10 offences and was later trialed for the remaining 12 that year, eventually she was found guilty of 17 offences but managed to avoid the possible life sentence of “Aiding the Enemy”. She was finally sentenced to 35 years for releasing the documents. However at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency he overturned the ruling making it 7 years including those served. In 2018 she was arrested again for almost a year for failing to testify before a Grand Jury over the investigation of Julian Assange, she was further fined $256,000.