What is WikiLeaks and what are some of its biggest leaks? From Chelsea Manning's cables to Emmanuel Macron's hacked emails

Here's the lowdown on its most shocking and embarrassing leaks from Chelsea Manning's Iraq files to Emmanuel Macron's leaked emails.

What is Wikileaks?

Wikileaks was set up in 2006 as an anti-secrecy organisation to allow whistleblowers to release information anonymously.

By 2015, the WikiLeaks website had published more than ten million documents including some classified as top secret.

The organisation says its purpose is "to bring important news and information to the public… so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth."

From early on it has faced fierce criticism from governments and defence and intelligence officials who accuse it of being irresponsible.

It is hosted on computer servers based in several countries around the world such as Iceland and Sweden where the law protects disclosures, putting it out of reach of efforts by US law enforcement bodies to close it down.

The US Justice Department launched a criminal probe into Wikileaks and its outspoken founder Julian Assange after the leak of diplomatic cables in 2010.

What did Chelsea Manning reveal through Wikileaks?

In 2010 Wikileaks published a series of three "mega leaks" using information passed to it by US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who later changed her name to Chelsea.

The whistleblower leaked more than 700,000 classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 251,287 diplomatic cables from US embassies and 482,232 Army reports.

One of the most damaging for the US was a video called Collateral Murder, footage of unarmed Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists being gunned down by American Apache helicopters.

The storm generated by this video made Wikileaks and Assange household names around the world.

The first mega leak was a tranche of more than 91,000 documents from the war in Afghanistan.

Wikileaks handed the juiciest papers to newspapers including The Guardian and the New York Times, which revealed how the US military killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents.

This was eclipsed by the Iraq War logs – some 391,832 field reports – the biggest leak in the military history of the United States.

They recorded more than 66,000 civilian deaths – many more than had previously been admitted.

Some 700 civilians including pregnant women were killed by US troops at checkpoints, papers revealed.

They also showed sickening torture of prisoners by Iraqi forces, and that US commanders had a policy of ignoring allegations of rape and murder by Iraqi police and soldiers.

Later Wikileaks began releasing its stash of diplomatic cables from US embassies, including embarrassingly candid assessments of the USA's allies and the revelation the US and Britain spied on UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

Manning was jailed for 35 years for a breach of the Espionage Act but was released in 2017 after her sentence was commuted by outgoing president Barack Obama.

What else has Wikileaks revealed?

Wikileaks has published material exposing toxic waste dumping on the ivory coast, Scientology manuals and Guantanamo Bay detention camp procedures.

More recently, Wikileaks claimed UK government helped CIA hack Samsung Smart TVs and turn them into "microphones".

It has been reported that TV viewers were stalked by a virus in their set called the Weeping Angel.

Software was also allegedly developed by the CIA to hack into people’s smartphones, computers and cars.

It claimed the papers — dubbed “Vault 7” — expose how a sinister TV surveillance program was developed by UK and US spy chiefs.

British agents were said to have been put in danger by the release of classified documents.

Wikileaks also published thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign in the final weeks of the race for the White House.

Assange defended the publication, denying links with Russia and claims that his website was trying to influence the US vote.

In July 2017 the site published 20,000 hacked email from Emmanuel Macron's campaign when he was running for president of France.

They cast doubt on his tough Brexit stance as it was revealed he was advised that staying close to the UK was a "key priority" for France as Britain is the "most important" military player in Europe.

In September 2017, WikiLeaks released "Spy Files Russia" which revealed "how a St Petersburg-based technology company called Peter-Service helped state entities gather detailed data on Russian cellphone users".

The tech was described as being "part of a national system of online surveillance called System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM)."

In January 2019, US federal prosecutors have been pressuring witnesses to testify against Assange suggesting the government is building its criminal case against him.

WikiLeaks said in a statement: "The submission reveals for the first time that U.S. federal prosecutors have in the last few months formally approached people in the United States, Germany and Iceland and pressed them to testify against Mr. Assange in return for immunity from prosecution."

It added that criminal charges were filed secretly by the Trump administration.

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