WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange, an Australian citizen. The site's mission was to create "an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis." It is not related to Wikipedia, and is not a "wiki" in any technical sense. What it did was create a secure way to upload secret files for public dissemination. By 2008, the repository held 1.2 million documents, including important leaks about Kenyan police killings and the treatment of Guantanamo's prisoners. Though well-known by some covering Internet security issues, the site burst into the mainstream with the April 2010 release of an annotated video called "Collateral Murder," which showed showed leaked footage of a U.S. helicopter crew killing a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters journalists.
The group followed up the video with the bombshell releases of hundreds of thousands of documents from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The new releases were coordinated with major newspapers (The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel) and generated global news. WikiLeaks reportedly received all of those documents from one Army private, Bradley Manning, who snuck them out of a military installation near Baghdad on burned CDs. Manning was outed by hacker Adrian Lamo and arrested in May. In June, Lamo showed Wired's Threat Level chat logs that purportedly showed that Manning had handed WikiLeaks more than 250,000 State Department cables. In July, WikiLeaks released an encrypted file on peer-to-peer file sharing networks that purportedly contains all the information the organization has ever received. Its contents have yet to be revealed.