WikiLeaks relaunches anonymous leak submission site after years-long hiatus

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on a screen speaking via web cast from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London during an event on the sideline of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council session on March 23, 2015 in Geneva. Assange took refuge in June 2012 in the Ecuadorian Embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of rape and sexual molestation, which he strongly denies. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Fabrice Coffrini — AFP/Getty Images

Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks has relaunched its system for the public to anonymously submit sensitive information after its shutdown four-and-a-half years ago.

WikiLeaks said on Friday that it has opened up a test version of its new system that lets sources upload documents, emails and videos that companies and government agencies would rather conceal. The system runs on Tor, free software that routes Internet traffic through a separate network to mask a user’s location and identity. Even WikiLeaks says it can’t track the leaker’s identity.

Publishing anonymous leaks has been at the core of WikiLeaks’ mission since it was founded in 2006. U.S. Army Private Chelsea (then known as Bradley) Manning famously used WikiLeaks to leak classified documents and videos about military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was eventually arrested and jailed for violating the U.S. Espionage Act.

In late 2010, a group of WikiLeaks staffers grew unhappy with the organization’s leaders and seized control of its system for submitting leaked information. Soon after, WikiLeaks vowed to bring back a new version. But it’s taken years longer than expected, in part due to the organization financial woes and leader Julian Assange’s political and legal troubles (he’s been holed up in Ecuador’s Embassy in London to avoid deportation to Sweden for questioning about rape allegations).

New whistle-blower projects, like GlobaLeaks and SecureDrop, which also use the Tor software, have sprung up in recent years as alternatives.

Despite taking its submission system offline, While WikiLeaks has continued to publish documents. But the group’s impact has waned as whistle-blowers turn directly to news outlets to leak secrets. Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor who helped to expose widespread NSA surveillance, gave a vast collection of documents to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras. With the relaunch of its portal, WikiLeaks is hoping to regain some of its earlier momentum and reach more potential leakers.

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