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12 Years Of Disruption: A WikiLeaks Timeline

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears at the window of the balcony prior to making an address to the media at the Embassy of Ecuador in London on May 19, 2017.
Justin Tallis
AFP/Getty Images
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appears at the window of the balcony prior to making an address to the media at the Embassy of Ecuador in London on May 19, 2017.

WikiLeaks was already established as an online outlet for posting secret documents from anonymous leakers well before its massive disclosure of U.S. government and military information in 2010. That was the year WikiLeaks' Australian founder, Julian Assange, faced allegations that led to his seeking asylum in Ecuador's London embassy.

Here is a timeline of WikiLeaks' key disclosures and related developments.


November:WikiLeaks posts a U.S. Army manual of standard operating procedures for soldiers overseeing al-Qaida suspects held captive at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


September: Two months before the U.S. presidential election, WikiLeaks posts leaked emails from the Yahoo account of Republican vice presidential contender Sarah Palin.


November: WikiLeaks posts more than half-a-million pager messages it claims were sent on Sept. 11, 2001.


April: WikiLeaks posts a classified U.S. military video of a U.S. Apache helicopter gunship firing on what the military says were believed to be armed fighters in New Baghdad, Iraq. Among the 18 killed were two Reuters journalists.

May: Pfc. Bradley (later known as Chelsea) Manning is arrested by the U.S. military and then court-martialed in June, charged with leaking the combat video posted on WikiLeaks as well as classified State Department documents by downloading those documents to a personal computer.

July: WikiLeaks posts what it calls "The Afghan War Logs," more than 75,000 classified documents that record previously undisclosed civilian casualties inflicted by the U.S. and coalition forces, details of the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and accounts of stepped-up fighting by the Taliban.

August: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces an arrest warrant over allegations of rape and molestation during a visit to Sweden; police question him in Stockholm, where he denies the allegations.

October: WikiLeaks posts nearly 400,000 classified military documents it calls "The Iraq War Logs"; they detail the involvement of Iraqi security forces in the torture of prisoners of war, document higher civilian death tolls and describe Iran's support for Iraqi insurgents.

November: WikiLeaks posts the first 250,000 of more than 3 million leaked U.S. diplomatic cables from nearly 300 American consulates and embassies worldwide that span the years from 1966 to 2010.

December: Assange is arrested in London to face extradition for the Swedish allegations; he is released and put under house arrest after posting bail.


February: WikiLeaks posts seven cables from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, amid violent clashes between Egyptian security forces and pro-democracy demonstrators; the documents discuss Egypt's human rights and civil liberties violations.

April: WikiLeaks posts "The Guantanamo Files," some 800 classified military documents detailing the official allegations of terrorist actions by the men held captive in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

October: After being removed from Amazon's servers and being allegedly cut off from major credit card companies as well as PayPal and Western Union, WikiLeaks suspends publication of leaked documents to "aggressively fundraise."


February: WikiLeaks starts posting a trove of what it claims are 5 million leaked emails from Stratfor, a private company that describes itself as a "global intelligence company."

June: Assange takes refuge in Ecuador's London embassy, where he seeks political asylum.

July: WikiLeaks begins posting more than 2 million leaked emails, dating back to 2006, from 680 Syrian government officials and firms.

August: Assange is granted political asylum at Ecuador's London embassy; a military judge condemns Manning to a 35-year prison sentence; Manning announces gender transition and asks to be known as Chelsea.


Throughout the year:WikiLeaks posts leaked documents detailing the private negotiations for major trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.


June: WikiLeaks posts leaked documents from the Saudi foreign ministry.

July: WikiLeaks begins posting leaked National Security Agency documents revealing American surveillance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as two prime ministers, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi.


July: WikiLeaks posts nearly 20,000 emails and 8,000 attachments from leaders of the Democratic National Committee; Assange later denies allegations that Russian intelligence services were the source of the leak.

October: WikiLeaks posts more than 2,000 hacked emails from the account of John Podesta, who at the time was campaign chairman for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.


January: Outgoing President Barack Obama commutes Manning's prison sentence, allowing her to be freed in May.

March: WikiLeaks starts posting what it calls "Vault 7," which it claims to be a collection of thousands of internal Central Intelligence Agency documents that detail a covert hacking program carried out by the agency as well as malware and software it uses to spy on smart TVs, the operating systems of most smartphones and Web browsers.

September: WikiLeaks starts posting the first of what it says are 650,000 leaked critical documents from surveillance contractors working in a Russia ruled by President Vladimir Putin.

October: CIA Director Mike Pompeo says the U.S. is "working to take down" WikiLeaks, which he calls "an enormous threat."

December: Assange is granted Ecuadorian citizenship.


April: The Democratic National Committee files a lawsuit against WikiLeaks for its role in publishing the DNC's hacked emails.

May: Manning's conviction under the Espionage Act is upheld by a U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

November: A document written by a U.S. attorney inadvertently discloses that Assange has been charged under seal by the U.S.


March: Manning is jailed after refusing to testify to a grand jury about what she leaked to WikiLeaks.

April: Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno accuses WikiLeaks of intercepting his private phone calls and hacking photos of his bedroom, his meals and his wife and daughters dancing; Moreno provided no evidence, and WikiLeaks calls the charges "bogus."

Assange is arrested at Ecuador's London embassy by British police, accused of skipping bail.

The U.S. Justice Department unseals an indictment of Assange dated March 6, 2018, that charges him with "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit

David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent.