Staff, name and founding
was one of the early members of the WikiLeaks staff and is credited as the website's founder.
The wikileaks.org domain name was registered on 4 October 2006. The website was established and published its first document in December 2006. WikiLeaks is usually represented in public by Julian Assange, who has been described as "the heart and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organiser, financier, and all the rest". Sarah Harrison, Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell are the only other publicly known and acknowledged associates of Assange who are currently living. Harrison is also a member of Sunshine Press Productions along with Assange and Ingi Ragnar Ingason. Gavin MacFadyen was acknowledged by Assange as a ″beloved director of WikiLeaks″ shortly after his death in 2016.
WikiLeaks was originally established with a "wiki" communal publication method, which was terminated by May 2010. Original volunteers and founders were once described as a mixture of Asian dissidents, journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the United States, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. As of June 2009 , the website had more than 1,200 registered volunteers.
Despite some popular confusion, related to the fact both sites use the "wiki" name and website design template, WikiLeaks and Wikipedia are not affiliated. Wikia, a for-profit corporation affiliated loosely with the Wikimedia Foundation, purchased several WikiLeaks-related domain names as a "protective brand measure" in 2007.
On 26 September 2018, it was announced that Julian Assange had appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson as editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks while the organisation's statement said Assange was remaining as its publisher. His access to the internet had been ended by his then hosts in the Ecuadorian embassy in March 2019 as he had broken a commitment "not to issue messages that might interfere with other states".
According to the WikiLeaks website, its goal is "to bring important news and information to the public ... One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth." Another of the organisation's goals is to ensure that journalists and whistleblowers are not prosecuted for emailing sensitive or classified documents. The online "drop box" is described by the WikiLeaks website as "an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to [WikiLeaks] journalists".
Some describe WikiLeaks as a media or journalistic organisation. For example, in a 2013 resolution, the International Federation of Journalists, a trade union of journalists, called WikiLeaks a "new breed of media organisation" that "offers important opportunities for media organisations". Harvard professor Yochai Benkler praised WikiLeaks as a new form of journalistic enterprise, testifying at the court-martial of Chelsea Manning (then Bradley Manning) that "WikiLeaks did serve a particular journalistic function," and that the "range of the journalist's privilege" is "a hard line to draw". Others do not consider WikiLeaks to be journalistic in nature. Media ethicist Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies wrote in 2011: "WikiLeaks might grow into a journalist endeavor. But it's not there yet." Bill Keller of The New York Times considers WikiLeaks to be a "complicated source" rather than a journalistic partner. Prominent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams writes that WikiLeaks is not a journalistic group, but instead "an organization of political activists; ... a source for journalists; and ... a conduit of leaked information to the press and the public". Noting Assange's statements that he and his colleagues read only a small fraction of information before deciding to publish it, Abrams writes: "No journalistic entity I have ever heard of—none—simply releases to the world an elephantine amount of material it has not read."