Extradition fight: Who is Julian Assange, why is Sweden seeking him?

A British court is hearing a final appeal from Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks whistleblower site, to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations. Here are four questions about the man and the case. 

2. How did WikiLeaks get international attention?

WikiLeaks began publishing material from countries around the globe in 2006. But the organization truly gained international attention four years later when it released video showing a 2007 US Army helicopter attack in Baghdad, which killed 12 people, including two Reuters reporters.

WikiLeaks claimed it obtained the video from whistle-blowers, reported The New York Times. Army Specialist Bradley Manning was arrested in connection with the release of the video and other classified documents, and faced preliminary hearings in December 2011, reported the Monitor.

Aside from releasing classified military information, much of the uproar surrounding the video had to do with its perceived inconsistencies with the US military’s official stance on what took place during the helicopter attack. The US military reportedly stated the helicopter was called in to aid American troops who were facing small arms and grenade attacks during a raid. The video released by WikiLeaks, however, showed people calmly standing around. The helicopter pilots mistook a Reuters photographer’s camera to be a weapon, and opened fire reports The New York Times.  

Three months later, over 91,000 classified US documents, mostly reporting on the war in Afghanistan were published on WikiLeak’s website. In late October, another 400,000 secret documents from US military files were posted, this time the information was related to the war in Iraq. The October release was the largest leak of classified military information in US history, reports Reuters.  

A month later in late November, thousands of US diplomatic cables were released, including “candid views” of foreign leaders and direct appraisals of international security threats, reports The New York Times. 

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