WASHINGTON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks has released some 400,000 secret U.S. files on the Iraq war. It was the whistle-blowing website’s second major dissemination of classified U.S. military documents since July, when it published more than 70,000 files on the Afghan war.
The two incidents represent the largest security breaches of their kind in U.S. military history, and have drawn a sharp rebuke from the Pentagon.
WikiLeaks gave some media outlets advance access to the massive database, with news reports on Friday saying the documents showed U.S. forces effectively turned a blind eye to Iraqi rights violations.
Here are some facts about WikiLeaks:
** WikiLeaks says it is a non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, journalists and the general public. Launched in 2006, it promotes the leaking of information to fight government and corporate corruption.
** In July, it released tens of thousands of secret U.S. military documents about the war in Afghanistan, offering them first to The New York Times, Britain’s Guardian newspaper and Germany’s Der Spiegel.
** The Pentagon said the Afghan war documents leak had put U.S. troops and Afghan informers at risk.
** Under the heading “Afghan War Diary, the documents collected from across the U.S. military in Afghanistan cover the war from 2004 to 2010, WikiLeaks said in a summary.
** Although founder Julian Assange has given few interviews recently, a website, www.wikileaks.org, and a Twitter feed, www.twitter.com/wikileaks, occasionally release material. Assange is an Australian who spends much of his time in Sweden. Earlier this year, he was accused of molestation by two women there, a charge being investigated by the Swedish prosecutor’s office. A complaint about attempted rape led to an arrest warrant, but that was quickly dropped. Assange has denied all charges.
** Sweden’s media laws are among the world’s most protective for journalists. In addition, Sweden’s Pirate Party, which advocates reform of copyright law, has agreed to host WikiLeaks’ servers, giving it additional legal protection.
WikiLeaks has no connection to the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
Writing by Eric Walsh
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