During a press conference in Berlin on Tuesday, the media organization WikiLeaks touted 10 years of drawing the veil of secrecy away from governments and businesses worldwide while also confirming that a new batch of documents—specifically targeting the U.S. government and internet giant Google—will be released over the next two months.
"Our upcoming series includes significant material on war, arms, oil, Google, the U.S. elections, and myself," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said via video link from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has been living since 2012. He said the documents would be released before the end of the year, with the first cache coming within the week.
There was significant anticipation surrounding Tuesday's announcement, which was originally set to come from a balcony at the embassy but was reconfigured due to "security concerns." As the New York Times noted, "[the] remarks from Mr. Assange disappointed many followers of WikiLeaks in the United States, who had stayed up into the early hours hoping to hear information relevant to the presidential election."
Indeed, The Verge reported:
There was a lot of build-up to today's press conference, in anticipation of what had been billed as an "October surprise" that could swing the U.S. presidential election. Instead, WikiLeaks devoted most of the event to recounting its most notorious releases and refuting criticism levied against it. Assange acknowledged the anticipation of a bombshell release in a winding address to reporters, though he declined to say whether the upcoming leaks would tilt the election toward Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
"There is enormous expectation in the United States," Assange said of the forthcoming leaks. "Some of that expectation will be partly answered; but you should understand that if we're going to make a major publication in relation to the United States at a particular hour, we don't do it at 3am."
Assange's previous hints about forthcoming leaks led Republican operatives to express hope that WikiLeaks' "October Surprise" would cripple Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy. But Assange appeared to quash that narrative on Tuesday, declaring: The idea that "we intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I don't like Hillary Clinton, all those are false."
WikiLeaks.org was registered as a website on October 4, 2006. A press pack (pdf) accompanying the video conference listed the "Top 10 Greatest Hits of WikiLeaks," including:
- the Guantanamo Files, which exposed "systematic and routine violations of the Geneva Conventions and abuse of 800 prisoners as young as 14 and as old as 89 at Guantanamo Bay;"
- the Collateral Murder classified U.S. military video, which showed a helicopter gunship slaying 18 people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad, including two Reuters journalists and their rescuers;
- leaks related to the corporate-friendly trade triumvirate of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP); Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP); and Trade in Services Agreement (TISA);
- and this summer's Democratic National Committee Leaks, "which resulted in the resignation of five top officials who had stacked the chips against one of the two Democratic candidates, Bernie Sanders, to favor Hillary Clinton by pressuring media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, and black PR methods."
Watch a highlight reel here:
"WikiLeaks has provided a unique and quite outstanding service to the people of the world," leftist intellectual Noam Chomsky said Tuesday, "bringing to them information that they should and deserve to have and that has been illegitimately concealed by systems of power."
Watch the full press conference (which begins at approx. 32-minute mark):