Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Inside... WikiLeaks

Turn the clock back fewer than 15 months and few people had heard of .



Fewer still would have recognised the face, or even the name, of Julian Assange.

Today, however, it is hard to imagine anyone who remains oblivious to the enigmatic Australian and his whistle-blowing website.

The publication of the Northern Ireland and Ireland cables by the Belfast Telegraph and Irish Independent recently is merely the latest stage in a series of high-profile leaks and disclosures orchestrated by .

It has collaborated with more than 50 of the world's leading media organisations to release its trove of 250,000 US embassy cables.

Media partners have ranged from outlets in India, Pakistan and Japan to those in smaller countries, such as Malaysia, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Jamaica.

The cables were used to break stories which have produced headlines, controversy or outrage - and sometimes led to change.

The Belfast Telegraph and Irish Independent - which delegated four journalists to work on the Ireland cables - produced around 100 newspaper pages of material directly resulting from the documents.

What makes it all the more remarkable is that only came to global prominence over the last 15 months.

Its first coup was the release, on April 5 last year, of the 'Collateral Murder' video - footage of air-strikes by US Apache helicopters which killed two Reuters news staff in Baghdad.

Three months later, released the Afghan war logs - a compilation of 76,900 previously-unreleased documents - followed, in October, by the Iraq war logs.

Then, last November, released more than 250,000 US State department cables to five leading newspapers.

Days of stories followed, from high-level corruption in Afghanistan to US spying at the United Nations.

quickly gained respect when the cables helped fuel the Tunisian revolt, which, in turn, inspired the uprising in Egypt, then Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

As the media interest has grown, so, too, has Assange's profile. So what next for ?

Last month, it released the Guantanamo Files and just last Saturday, Assange hinted that he was prepared to reveal the names of individuals granted superinjunctions.

One thing is certain, however: we haven't heard the last of - or Assange.

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