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WikiLeaks temporarily closes due to lack of funding

Text by Sébastian SEIBT

Latest update : 2010-07-27

The scoop oriented website, WikiLeaks, has been forced to shut down temporarily due to a lack of funding. Founded in 2007, they have been at the origin of various key news stories.

No more leaks, at least not for a while. The website WikiLeaks, known for breaking numerous news stories - ranging from publishing secret documents on Guantanamo Bay to corruption in Kenya - has shut down due to a lack of funds.

In a statement posted on its website, WikiLeaks parent, The Sunshine Press, a non-profit organisation funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists and the general public, explained that the site needed $600,000 in order to survive 2010 and pay their employees. Since the December launch of their funding drive, the organisation has managed to raise just $130,000 in donations, far short of the amount required.

Founded in 2007 by Chinese dissidents, journalists and human rights activists, WikiLeaks has provided contributors the opportunity to anonymously post leaked documents. The website claims to have more than a billion confidential documents. Some of them have made it into the mainstream press. In 2008, WikiLeaks received the new media award from the highly-respected British magazine, The Economist. Amnesty International also awarded the site its new media award in 2009. The award-winning site has also successfully fought more than 100 legal challenges.

The success of WikiLeaks lies in its editorial policy of posting original and often incriminating documents live without edits or editorial comment.

Below is a list of just some of the stories the site helped uncover:

Corruption in Kenya: In April 2007, WikiLeaks published a confidential report by a risk assessment group that detailed extensive corruption allegations against former Kenyan leader Daniel Arap Moi and his family. British daily newspaper, The Guardian subsequently picked up the story and ran a front-page piece on corruption in Kenya.

Guantanamo Bay: In November 2007, the WikiLeaks published the Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures manual. It was the first time a “sensitive” document about Guantanamo Bay went public. It showed, for instance, what kind of furniture prisoners where allowed to have and the classification of the detainees depending on their supposed threat.

Scientology: In April 2008, the website published several pages of top secret documents, including material for high-level members of the Church of Scientology, which contained a hand-written note from founder L. Ron Hubbard. The cult ordered WikiLeaks to disclose their source. The website, however, refused to comply. Instead, hundreds of new documents on the Church of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs were published online.

Tax havens: WikiLeaks took on bankers at the Swiss bank Julius Bear. It released a document linking their business to the Cayman Island, regarding a possible tax evasion. Julius Bear sued the website but lost their case in the end.

Sarah Palin: In September 2008, Sarah Palin, John Cain’s vice presidential pick, saw almost all of her personal emails published on WikiLeaks. Though it was mainly chit-chat, the contents of the mailbox seemed to suggest that she used her private Yahoo account to send work-related messages in order to evade public record laws.

9/11: Over 500,000 text messages sent by pagers on September 11, 2001 in the United States were made public in November 2009 on WikiLeaks. This story gave a great inside account on how US citizens, including high-profile people, lived through this tragic day.

Date created : 2010-02-02


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