WikiLeaks describes itself as a “not-for-profit media organization” whose goal is to “bring important news and information to the public.” Launched in 2006, it is a loose network of individual leakers and advisers with a post office box at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. A shadowy, mostly volunteer organization, WikiLeaks operates on many servers and under domain names around the world. Much of its work is conducted from a rented house in Iceland.
Australian Julian Paul Assange is WikiLeaks' editor in chief and only spokesman. He is in his late 30s, studied physics, math, and computer programming, all of which made him an expert computer hacker. Mr. Assange seems to travel constantly, although not to the United States, sometimes altering his appearance to avoid being recognized or possibly arrested.
The other prominent name connected to WikiLeaks is US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning. Manning was a military analyst in Iraq, where, despite his low rank, he had wide access to sensitive and classified information. Among other things, he allegedly downloaded and leaked video footage of an attack by a US Apache helicopter gunship that killed Iraqi civilians, including two employees of the Reuters news agency.
Manning was arrested in May and later charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in conjunction with “transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system,” as well as “communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source.