The words ‘Hacker’ and ‘Wikileaks’ are two that immediately shift my focus elsewhere. The mere thought of the Wikileaks phenomenon is enough to bore me to tears. However, that’s the beauty of University – forcing uninterested little punks like me to discover new things and form an informed opinion. I’d like to add that I’m glad to have researched this topic… here’s just some of my new found thoughts about online activism.

Wikileaks emerged as a non-profit organisation that aims to broadcast information to the public. Using a complex string of untraceable websites (and other cool internet stuff), the organisation aims to anonymously reveal wrong doings that appeal to the public’s interest.

Officially launched in 2007, Wikileaks made headlines globally, with it’s founder and publicly recognised figure-head, Julian Assange at the forefront of the publicity. So what made the Wikileaks debacle so newsworthy?

In 2010, Wikileaks published a video (amongst various other revelations) that showed the crew of a United States helicopter laughing as they killed a dozen people in Baghdad. The video was accessed, downloaded and passed onto Wikileaks by then US military Private, Bradley Manning. 25-years old at the time, Manning saw the wrong doings of his own colleagues and countrymen as newsworthy and deemed the horrific actions to be in the public’s best interest.

I am of the firm belief that the men in the video deserve the appropriate punishment. Not only were they allegedly [I can’t speak definitively as the video has been removed by ‘The Guardian’] laughing as they killed unarmed citizens, but were also heard saying “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards” and “hahah. I hit ‘em”.

So, were private Manning’s actions justified? Understandable even? I think yes – but the court thinks no. On one hand, the men featured in the video deserved to be publicly shamed but on the other, Manning illegally accessed restricted government material.

Unfortunately the courts did not share my opinion and Manning has been sentenced to jail for 35 years – Private Bradley Manning’s story serves as a harsh deterrent for any future whistle blowers who might strive to somehow make a difference.

So it seems that Wikileaks isn’t quite as complicated and shady as I previously assumed. It’s work to try and uncover wrong doings within large corporations and government sector’s is bringing many important issues to the public’s attention. The example of Manning demonstrates the unfortunate reality that is now facing someone purely for displaying honesty and integrity.


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