WikiLeaks release: Why law is powerless to stop WikiLeaks from publishing
The structure of WikiLeaks makes it practically impossible for governments and other organisations embarrassed by its disclosures to make legal challenges against it.
Many of the documents published on the site are classified or protected by copyright. Ordinarily the original owners would attempt to have them removed.
However, Wikileaks hosts its publications across several different servers, which “are distributed over multiple international jurisdictions and do not keep logs” that could be seized, the organisation says.
Julian Assange, the founder and editor, has said his group uses “state-of-the-art encryption to bounce stuff around the internet to hide trails”.
Mr Assange told a conference in July that Wikileaks passes its data through countries that offer relatively strong legal protection to people who leak information, including Sweden, Iceland and Belgium.
PRQ, a Swedish internet hosting company linked to the file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, has said it provides Wikileaks with server space from a base in the Stockholm suburb.
Mikael Viborg, the owner of PRQ, said Swedish authorities were aware of the servers’ location but had not made any attempt to shut them down.
He said Wikileaks also had backup servers in place in other countries that were ready to be activated if their primary servers were shut down.
Reports have also claimed some Wikileaks servers are 30 metres underground, in a Cold War nuclear bunker that was carved out of a large rock hill in Stockholm.
After Wikileaks released its Iraq war logs earlier this year, it emerged the organisation was also “mirroring” the data on US-based servers, in a move seen as a deliberate taunt to the Pentagon and US authorities.