author photo
By Bruce Sussman
Fri | May 24, 2019 | 8:10 AM PDT

Think about this from an organizational perspective.

Let's say you have an employee that is upset about how you do things and has access to confidential information.

They don't do anything wrong with that access—what would they do with all that data, anyway?

Then they see the post online: WikiLeaks is asking an insider to leak this information. And that motivates the employee to search, download, and share your organization's sensitive data with the world.

A grand jury just indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on 18 criminal charges related to a scenario just like this.

5 ways indictment says Assange is guilty

Prosecutors say Assange and WikiLeaks motivated a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, Chelsea Manning, to break the law.

Here are five things we learned from the Julian Assange WikiLeaks indictment. 

1. Assange and WikiLeaks publicized a "Most Wanted Hacks" list

Examples include:

  • "Bulk Databases"
  • "Military and Intelligence"
  • "Iraq and Afghanistan Rules of Engagement 2007-2009 (SECRET)"
  • Operating and interrogation procedures at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
  • "Detainee abuse photos withheld by the Obama administration"
  • CIA detainee interrogation videos
  • Information about certain weapons systems

2. Prosecutors say this encouraged insider threat Chelsea Manning to find and leak these things.

She allegedly searched the U.S. classified database for the following terms. See how they match up with the most wanted list above. 

  • "retention+of+interrogation+videos"
  • "detainee+abuse"
  • There were many other searches, resulting in the following:

    "Manning downloaded four nearly complete databases from departments and agencies of the United States. These databases contained approximately 90,000 Afghanistan war-related significant activity reports, 400,000 Iraq war-related significant activities reports, 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs, and 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables. The United States had classified many of these records up to the SECRET level."

3. Assange and WikiLeaks asked hackers for help.

The indictment reports several cases of Assange and WikiLeaks reps attending and speaking at hacker conferences to ask for their help in obtaining items on the most wanted hacks list.

  • "For example, in December 2009, Assange and a WikiLeaks affiliate gave a presentation at the 26th Chaos Communication Congress (26C3), described by the website as an annual conference attended by the hacker community and others that is hosted by the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), which its website purports is 'Europe's largest association of hackers.' During that presentation, WikiLeaks described itself as the 'leading disclosure portal for classified, restricted or legally threatened publications.'"
  • "For example, in 2009, Assange spoke at the 'Hack in the Box Security Conference' in Malaysia. Assange referenced the conference's 'capture the flag' hacking contest and noted that WikiLeaks had its own list of 'flags' that it wanted captured—namely, the list of 'Most Wanted Leaks' posted on the WikiLeaks website. He encouraged people to search for the list and for those with access to obtain and give to WikiLeaks information responsive to that list."

4. Julian Assange himself offered to help crack a hashed password that was keeping Analyst Manning from getting even more information and data. Read about that revelation and 3 Things the Headlines Missed About the Assange Arrest.

5. Assange told Manning her actions would encourage others to leak information to WikiLeaks. 

  • "Assange responded, in part, that 'these sorts of things are always motivating to other sources too.' Assange stated, 'gitmo=bad, leakers=enemy of gitmo, leakers=good ... Hence the feeling is people can give us stuff for anything not as 'dangerous as gitmo' on the one hand, and on the other, for people who know more, there's a desire to eclipse.' Manning replied, 'true, ive crossed a lot of those 'danger' zones, so im comfortable.'"

Read and download Julian Assange WikiLeaks indictment

We've only hit some of the highlights here because the Julian Assange indictment covers 18 criminal charges and is more than 35 pages long. 

Download and read the Assange indictment for yourself.

WikiLeaks Email Release Spreads Malware
WikiLeaks Founder Assange Targeted by Hacker
Hacker says: 'I Wanted to Give You F**** in the West the Middlefinger'