The American Presidential Election is almost upon us and with the rise in coverage comes the return of a familiar name, Wikileaks. The non-profit organisation, owned by Sunshine Press, is most famous for its website Wikileaks.org, which is responsible for some of the biggest leaks of classified government documents in recent history.
In the past, Wikileaks has been linked with The Guardian and other mainstream news sources, as well as releasing information directly from the website. Operating since 2006, it has been responsible for leaks related to Guantanamo Bay and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – the latter being one of the largest document leaks in history. In 2012, website founder Julian Assange sought asylum from Ecuadorian Government to avoid extradition to Sweden related to sexual assault charges and he currently resides in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Wikileaks returned to prominence this summer by speculating that they had access to emails that could potentially imprison Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton. While this proved not to be the case, they did release emails from Democratic National Committee officials and other high ranking members in the Democratic Party, leading to the resignation of Democratic National Committee chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The release of emails has continued throughout the election cycle with a daily stream of new documents posted on the Wikileaks twitter account.
This has led to questions about Assange’s agenda and his desire to influence the US Election, as well as his relationship with the Russian government, who many believe is responsible for the hacks. Wikileaks maintains that they are not attempting to bias the election, but instead reveal important and relevant information. On Tuesday, 18 October, it was announced that the Ecuadorian government had cut off internet access to Assange, in an attempt to de-authorise his activities, although they maintain that they will continue to offer him asylum within the embassy. Shortly after Assange’s internet shut off was announced, Wikileaks’ twitter account released more Clinton-related emails, this time from her Campaign Chief John Podesta, and promised that more were coming. Wikileaks accuses US Secretary of State John Kerry of conspiring with Ecuador to cut off Assange’s internet access, which both Kerry and Ecuador deny. The email leaks have continued, and it remains to be seen what effect this will have on the election come 8 November.
Image: David Shankbone