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“The Fifth Estate,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, was released Friday in theaters across the country, putting the WikiLeaks organization back in the limelight.
WikiLeaks is a nonprofit, international organization that publishes secret information from anonymous sources from across the globe. It was responsible for the largest leak of U.S. classified documents in history. The documents contained war logs and diplomatic cables concerning the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Weber State University student Jordon Roberts said he supports WikiLeaks as long as it stays out of the private realm.
“I don’t mind spying on the government. I have a major issue with them hacking my personal information, though. I like WikiLeaks, yes, but again, if they move to the personal realm, I’ll cease to support them.”
WikiLeaks has reportedly not just stuck with anonymous sources, but taken it upon itself to gather the information through hacking.
Although some of WikiLeaks’ methods may seem questionable, student Sarah Zvonkovic still supports its right to publish.
“I don’t really care for the method, but I do think it’s a good thing to have — like now, especially, the government is keeping a lot from us, and I think we should know.”
“The Fifth Estate” follows Assange as well as his associate Daniel Berg, played by Daniel Bruhl. The film is based off of Berg’s accounts in his book, “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website.” In the book, Berg gives a detailed account of his involvement with WikiLeaks and his time with Assange in the times leading up to the leak of the war logs and cables, and the eventual falling out between Assange and Berg due to disagreement on how the sensitive information involving names in the war logs and cables should be handled.
The movie shows WikiLeaks beginning as a meaningful organization that crusades to bring to light the injustices and wrongdoings of corrupt governments and various organizations around the world. What may have started out as a noble act turns into a diplomatic nightmare with WikiLeaks’ refusal to redact names of U.S. informants around the world, which ultimately put the lives of those informants and their families in possible danger.
In an official press release on Wikileaks.org, the organization announced a release of its own movie called “Mediastan,” which was timed to be released at the same time as “The Fifth Estate,” allowing supporters to view “Mediastan” for free during the opening the opening weekend of “The Fifth Estate.”
Although WikiLeaks is notorious for its means of obtaining information, it seems it has the support of some WSU students, including mechanical engineering major Tyler Hales.
“I fully support them,” Hales said. “That kind of information should be made free and available to the public by any means.”
However, if there is proof that WikiLeaks did in fact put informants and their families in danger when the informants were just attempting to keep U.S. citizens safe by refusing to redact the names, it will have lost support from some WSU students.
“If the stuff they found was secret to keep us safe from danger, I don’t think they should put it out,” Zvonkovic said. “So if they did put something like that out, no, I wouldn’t support it.”
WikiLeaks continues to publish sensitive documents and information on its website to this day.