Top 10 Julian Assange exposés

List includes U.S. military misconduct, global surveillance, and secret documents, sparking international controversy.

Pop Culture & Art June 27, 2024
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange PHOTO: REUTERS

Julian Paul Assange is an Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. 

Assange gained international attention in 2010 after WikiLeaks published a series of leaks from Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, including footage of a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, military logs from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and U.S. diplomatic cables. Assange has won multiple awards for publishing and journalism. In June 2024, Assange agreed to a plea deal with American prosecutors, leading to his immediate release. He returned to Australia on 26 June 2024.

Throughout his career, Assange has been behind some of the most significant and controversial exposés of our time. Here are the top 10 Julian Assange exposés, listed in chronological order:

1. Baghdad Airstrike Video: On 5 April 2010, WikiLeaks released a video titled "Collateral Murder," showing a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed 12-18 people, including two Reuters journalists. The footage, confirmed as authentic by a U.S. military official, sparked global debate over the attack's legality and morality.

2. Afghan War Diary: On 25 July 2010, WikiLeaks released over 92,000 documents to The Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel, covering the Afghanistan War from 2004 to 2009. The documents revealed incidents of friendly fire and civilian casualties. Assange compared the scale of this leak to the Pentagon Papers of the 1970s. WikiLeaks later added a 1.4 GB "insurance file" to the Afghan War Diary page, speculated to be a safeguard against harm to WikiLeaks or Assange.

3. Iraq War Logs: In October 2010, WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 documents related to the Iraq War. Despite initial denials by Assange about the timing of the release, The Guardian received the documents on 21 October. Al Jazeera was the first to analyse and release the documents, leading to a global wave of articles based on the material. The release coincided with the return of the main WikiLeaks website.

4. Diplomatic Cable Leaks: On 22 November 2010, WikiLeaks hinted at a massive release of documents, which turned out to be diplomatic cables. These cables, published by The New York Times and The Washington Post on 28 November, included 94 Pakistan-related documents. The leak prompted a DA-Notice from the UK government to newspapers, requesting advance notice of publication.

5. Guantánamo Bay Files: Beginning on 24 April 2011, WikiLeaks, along with several major news organisations, published 779 secret documents about detainees at Guantánamo Bay. These documents, classified as "secret" and NOFORN (not for foreign nationals), included assessments, interviews, and internal memos written by the Pentagon's Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

6. Global Intelligence Files: On 27 February 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing "The Global Intelligence Files," consisting of over 5,000,000 emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, dating from July 2004 to December 2011. The emails exposed how Stratfor operated and targeted individuals for its clients.

7. Sony Archives: On 16 April 2015, WikiLeaks released a searchable version of the Sony Archives, originally hacked by the "Guardians of Peace" in November 2014. The leak included over 30,000 documents and 173,000 emails from Sony Pictures Entertainment.

8. NSA Spying: On 23 June 2015, WikiLeaks revealed that the NSA spied on the French government, including Presidents François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Jacques Chirac. Further documents released in July 2015 showed NSA spying on German ministries and Brazilian government officials, including President Dilma Rousseff.

9. DNC Email Leak: On 22 July 2016, WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 emails and over 8,000 attachments from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), showing bias against Bernie Sanders in favour of Hillary Clinton. The Mueller investigation later indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking and leaking these emails.

10. Vault 7: On 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks began publishing "Vault 7," a series of documents revealing the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) electronic surveillance and cyber warfare capabilities from 2013 to 2016. The leaks detailed the CIA's ability to compromise various devices and operating systems, including cars, smart TVs, web browsers, smartphones, and computer systems. The CIA's internal audit found that 91 out of over 500 malware tools used by its Operations Support Branch were compromised.


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