Timeline of WikiLeaks

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This is a timeline of WikiLeaks, an international non-profit organization that publishes news leaks.[1]

Big picture

Time period Development summary
1990s Julian Assange starts hacking systems and is punished with the first cybercrime charges. By the end of the decade, Assange registers leaks.org.
2000s wikiLeaks.org website launches in the mid-decade. Collaboration with The Guardian begins. WikiLeaks starts being recognized with awards.
2010s Massive information leaks happen at the beginning of the decade,[2] as well as the Bradley Manning case. The organization receives many awards in the 2010s. However, condemnation rises in several countries. In 2016, WikiLeaks intervention disrupts the 2016 United States elections and more precisely the Democrats political campaign. WikiLeaks publishes the biggest ever leak of CIA documents, revealing the agency’s hacking and surveillance techniques.[3]

Full timeline

Year Month and date Event type Details
1971 Prelude United States military analyst Daniel Ellsberg releases the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of the U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers. This study would be Julian Assange inspiration for WikiLeaks.[4]
1971 July 3 Prelude Julian Assange is born in the province of Queensland, Australia.[5][6]
1990s Prelude Julian Assange and other hackers gain control over MILNET for two years with the use of a back door, gaining full access to the Pentagon Security Coordination Center. The IT rebels are also able to use their computers to interfere with the authorities who are investigating them.[7]
1991 Prelude Assange, now a noted computer hacker, pleads guilty to a host of cybercrime charges, but because of his youth he receives only minimal punishment.[4]
c.1993 Prelude Assange cumulates 31 counts of computer hacking and related crimes, eventually pleading guilty and paying a minimal fine.[5]
1999 Launch Assange registers leaks.org.[7]
2006 Launch Assange starts using leaks.org actively.[5]
2006 December Launch Sunshine Press launches the wikiLeaks.org website, as part of an international non-profit organization that obtains and publishes sensitive information.[7][4]
2006 December 26 Release The first posting on leaks.org is a decision (never verified) by a Somali rebel leader to execute government officials.[5][8]
2007 Launch Assange announces the formal launch of WikiLeaks.[5]
2007 Partnership Assange initiates a relationship with British daily newspaper The Guardian, which reportedly receives regular emails from WikiLeaks “editor-in-chief” Assange, sometimes with a "good story to tell".[5]
2007 August 31 Partnership WikiLeaks and The Guardian work in tandem for the first time, with WikiLeaks posting the full text off, and the Guardian running a story on, a report by the private investigations firm Kroll about the alleged corruption of former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi.[5]
2007 November Release WikiLeaks posts the standard operating procedures for the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[4]
2007 December Release WikiLeaks posts the United States Army manual for soldiers dealing with prisoners at Camp Delta, a permanent American detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay.[9]
2007 Team German activist Daniel Domscheit-Berg begins working with WikiLeaks after meeting Assange at the Chaos Computer Club's annual conference (24C3).[10]
2008 March Release WikiLeaks publishes internal material from the Church of Scientology. This would lead to the group threatening suit on the grounds of copyright infringement.[4][9]
2008 April Recognition Wikileaks is awarded The Economist's New Media Award at the Index on Censorship Awards.[11]
2008 September Release WikiLeaks posts emails from the Yahoo email account of US politician Sarah Palin.[9]
2008 November Release WikiLeaks posts a list of names and addresses of people it claims belong to British National Party, a far-right, fascist political party in the United Kingdom.[9]
2008 Recognition WikiLeaks receives The Economist New Media Award.[12]
2009 March 16 Censorship The Australian Communications and Media Authority adds WikiLeaks to their proposed list of sites that will be blocked for all Australians if the mandatory internet filtering scheme is implemented as planned.[13][14] The blacklisting would be removed by 29 November 2010.[15]
2009 April 9 Censorship Germany deletes wikileaks.de domain two weeks after the house of the German WikiLeaks domain sponsor, Theodor Reppe, was searched by German authorities.[16]
2009 June Recognition Wikileaks is awarded the Amnesty International's UK Media Award.[17][18]
2009 September 4 Release WikiLeaks publishes the "Minton report", a study commissioned by Trafigura to determine the toxicity of the waste dumped in Abidjan during the 2006 Ivory Coast toxic waste dump.[8]
2009 November Release WikiLeaks posts more than half a million pager messages sent within a 24-hour period around the September 11 attacks. Revealing messages include exchanges from "The Pentagon, FBI, FEMA and New York Police Department" officials. WikiLeaks states about the release: "We hope that its entrance into the historical record will lead to a nuanced understanding of how this event led to death, opportunism and war."[19]
2009 Recognition WikiLeaks is awarded The Amnesty New Media Award.[12]
2010 February Funding WikiLeaks announces it has been given the US$200,000 in donations it needs to continue work.[20]
2010 April 5 Release WikiLeaks posts a classified military video showing a Boeing AH-64 Apache firing on and killing two journalists and a number of Iraqi civilians in 2007. The military claims that the helicopter crew believed the targets were armed insurgents, not civilians.[9]
2010 May Legal The first formal charges are filed when low-level U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is arrested in connection with the release of the 2007 helicopter video.[4]
2010 May 19 Recognition The New York Daily News lists WikiLeaks first among websites "that could totally change the news".[21]
2010 May 26 Legal The United States Armed Forces detains Bradley Manning on charges of illegally downloading hundreds of thousands of classified US documents, including the US helicopter gunship attack posted on WikiLeaks, and classified State Department records. Manning is turned in by threat analyst Adrian Lamo, who Manning confided in about leaking the classified records.[9][5]
2010 July 6 Legal The United States Armed Forces announce having charged Bradley Manning with violating army regulations by transferring classified information to a personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system and of violating federal laws of governing the handling of classified information.[9]
2010 July 17 Support American independent journalist Jacob Appelbaum speaks on behalf of WikiLeaks at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference in New York City, replacing Assange because of the presence of federal agents at the conference.[22][23] He announces that the WikiLeaks submission system is again operating, after it has been suspended temporarily.[22][24]
2010 July 25 Release WikiLeaks posts more than 90,000 classified documents relating to the War in Afghanistan. This would be called the biggest leak since the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. The documents are divided into more than 100 categories and touch on everything from the hunt for Osama bin Laden to Afghan civilian deaths resulting from US military actions."[9]
2010 July Support Veterans for Peace president Mike Ferner writes on the group's website "neither Wikileaks nor the soldier or soldiers who divulged the documents should be prosecuted for revealing this information. We should give them a medal."[25]
2010 August Team WikiLeaks decides to move their headquarters to Uppsala and begins to mainly be hosted by the Swedish internet service provider Bahnhof, where there are now a couple WikiLeaks servers in the Pionen facility.[7]
2010 August 18 Censorship The Thai Government blocks access to WikiLeaks website in its country.[26]
2010 August Support Documentary filmmaker John Pilger writes an editorial in the Australian publication Green Left titled "Wikileaks must be defended." In it, Pilger says WikiLeaks represents the interests of "public accountability" and a new form of journalism at odds with "the dominant section ... devoted merely to taking down what cynical and malign power tells it."[27]
2010 October 22 Release WikiLeaks publishes nearly 400,000 classified military documents from the Iraq War, providing new figures of deceased Iraqi civilians, as well as the role that Iran has played in supporting Iraqi militants and many accounts of abuse by Iraq's army and police.[9] "So, WikiLeaks published the Iraq War Logs on October 22nd of 2010. In so doing, it became the biggest leak in the military history of America up to that point, far surpassing the Afghan War Diary of July 25th from that same year."[7]
2010 October 23 Recognition WikiLeaks and Assange are awarded the 2010 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence award for releasing secret U.S. military reports on the Iraq and Afghan wars.[28]
2010 November 28 Release WikiLeaks begins publishing approximately 250,000 diplomatic cables from the United States Department of State dating back to 1966. The site says the documents will be released "in stages over the next few months."[9][29]
2010 November 28 Reaction wikileaks.org suffers an attack designed to make it unavailable to users. A Twitter user called Jester claims responsibility for the attack.[9]
2010 November 29 Censorship Thailand Blocks Access To WikiLeaks Website.[30]
2010 November 29 Support Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez states his support for WikiLeaks following the release of US diplomatic cables in November 2010 showing the United States attempts to rally support from regional governments to isolate Venezuela.[31]
2010 November Release WikiLeaks releases selections from a list of some 250,000 classified diplomatic cables between the United States Department of State and its embassies and consulates around the world. These secret documents contain U.S. efforts to politically and economically isolate Iran, primarily in response to fears of Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.[4]
2010 November Public opinion According to a telephone survey of 1,004 German residents age 18 and older, a majority of 53% disapprove of WikiLeaks, while 43% are generally in favour of the platform. Asked about the specific release of US diplomatic cables, almost two Thirds (65%) believe that these documents should not be published, compared to 31% that agree that they are being released to the public.[32]
2010 November Team The WikiLeaks-endorsed news and activism site WikiLeaks Central is initiated and administrated by editor Heather Marsh.[33][34]
2010 November 30 Censorship China blocks Internet access to WikiLeaks' release of more than 250,000 leaked cables from the United States Department of State, with its Foreign Ministry saying that it does not wish to see any disturbance in China–United States relations.[35]
2010 December 1 Reaction Amazon.com removes WikiLeaks from its servers after political pressure.[36][37][38]
2010 December 2 Reaction Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard makes a statement that she 'absolutely condemns' WikiLeaks' actions and that the release of information on the site is 'grossly irresponsible' and 'illegal.'[39]
2010 December 2 Reaction EveryDNS.net drops wikiLeaks.org as a client, citing the danger that the cyber attacks aimed at that site poses to the service's 500,000 other clients.[40]
2010 December 3 Reaction The Obama administration bans hundreds of thousands of federal employees from calling up the WikiLeaks site on government computers because the leaked material is still formally regarded as classified.[41] The White House Office of Management and Budget sends a memorandum forbidding all unauthorized federal government employees and contractors from accessing classified documents publicly available on WikiLeaks and other websites.[42]
2010 December 9 Support United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression Frank LaRue states he agrees with the idea that Julian Assange is a "martyr for free speech." LaRue goes on to say Assange or other WikiLeaks staff should not face legal accountability for any information they disseminated, noting that, "if there is a responsibility by leaking information it is of, exclusively of the person that made the leak and not of the media that publish it. And this is the way that transparency works and that corruption has been confronted in many cases."[43] High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, subsequently voices concern at the revelation that private companies are being pressured by states to sever their relationships with WikiLeaks.[44]
2010 December 15 Reaction Philipino President Benigno Aquino III condemns WikiLeaks and leaks documents related to the country, saying that it can lead to massive cases of miscommunication.[45]
2010 December 21 Reaction Media reports that Apple Inc. has removed an application from its App Store, which provided access to the embassy cable leaks.[46]
2010 December Support Noam Chomsky offers his support to protesters across Australia planning to take to the streets in defence of WikiLeaks.[47] In an interview for Democracy Now!, Chomsky criticizes the government response, saying, "perhaps the most dramatic revelation ... is the bitter hatred of democracy that is revealed both by the U.S. Government – Hillary Clinton, others – and also by the diplomatic service."[48]
2010 December Spin-off Daniel Domscheit-Berg announces the intention to start a site named "OpenLeaks".[49][50]
2010 December Reaction wikileaks.org faces a number of setbacks, being forced to go off-line once again when the site’s domain name provider terminates its account in the wake of a series of distributed denial-of-service attacks. However, as with previous service interruptions, WikiLeaks remains available on mirror sites or by directly linking to its IP address.[4]
2010 December Legal The British police arrests Assange on an outstanding Swedish warrant for alleged sex crimes.[4]
2010 December Reaction PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard suspend online payment processing for donations to WikiLeaks.[4]
2010 December Recognition Assange is named "Person of the Year" by Time Magazine.[6]
2010 December Recognition The office of the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev issues a statement calling on non-governmental organisations to consider "nominating Julian Assange as a Nobel Prize laureate." The announcement follows commentary by Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin who stated that Julian Assange's earlier arrest on Swedish charges demonstrated that there was "no media freedom" in the west.[51]
2010 December Public opinion A research poll shows that the majority of Australians are against the official government position on WikiLeaks. The findings were done on 1,000 individuals, showing 59% support WikiLeaks' action in making the cables public and 25% oppose it.[52]
2010 December Public opinion According to a telephone survey of 1,029 US residents age 18 and older, conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, 70% of American respondents – particularly Republicans and older people – think the leaks are doing more harm than good by allowing enemies of the United States government to see confidential and secret information about U.S. foreign policy. Approximately 22% – especially young liberals – think the leaks are doing more good than harm by making the U.S. government more transparent and accountable. A majority of 59% also want to see the people behind WikiLeaks prosecuted, while 31% said the publication of secrets is protected under the First Amendment guarantee of a free press.[53]
2010 December Wikileaks website, wikileaks.org, redirects web traffic to a 3rd party mirror site, mirror.wikileaks.info., a new website which is hosted in Russian Webalta's 92.241.160.0/19 IP address space, a network which The Spamhaus Project believes caters primarily to, or is under the control of, Russian cybercriminals.[54]
2010 Recognition WikiLeaks is awarded The Sam Adams Award for Integrity.[12]
2011 January Reaction Libyan politician Muammar Gaddafi blames WikiLeaks for the Tunisian revolution stating "[Do not be fooled by] WikiLeaks which publishes information written by lying ambassadors in order to create chaos."[55]
2011 January Spin-off RuLeaks launches as a Russian version of WikiLeaks. The website begins translating and mirroring publications by the original WikiLeaks, but it would quickly switch to original content.[56]
2011 April Release WikiLeaks begins publishing more secret files from the military facilities at Guantanamo Bay, containing detailed information about the majority of prisoners detained at the detention camp from 2002 to 2008, including photographs, health records, and assessments of the potential threat posed by each prisoner. The files also indicates that dozens of detainees have passed through radicalized British mosques prior to their departure for Afghanistan and, ultimately, their capture by United States forces.[4]
2011 April 25 Release WikiLeaks obtains nearly 800 classified US military documents revealing details about the alleged terrorist activities of Al Qaeda operatives captured and housed in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[8]
2011 June Recognition Assange is awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.[57]
2011 July 14 Reaction WikiLeaks and DataCell ehf. of Iceland file a complaint against the international card companies, VISA Europe and MasterCard Europe, for infringement of the antitrust rules of the EU, in response to their withdrawal of financial services to the organization. In a joint press release, the organizations state: "The closure by VISA Europe and MasterCard of Datcell's access to the payment card networks in order to stop donations to WikiLeaks violates the competition rules of the European Community."[58] DataCell files a complaint[59] with the European Commission on 14 July 2011.
2011 August Spin-off Leakymails launches in Argentina as a project designed to obtain and publish relevant documents exposing corruption of the political class and the powerful in the country.[60][61][62][63]
2011 September 2 Release Assange releases its archive containing more than 250,000 unredacted US diplomatic cables.[9]
2011 October 24 WikiLeaks announces a temporary halt in publication in order to focus its efforts on fund-raising. Assange states that a financial blockade by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union has cut off 95% of WikiLeaks' revenue.[9][4]
2011 December 1 Release Wikileaks releases documents exposing 160 companies in the mass surveillance industry.[8]
2011 December Spin-off WikiLeaks launches Friends of WikiLeaks, a social network for supporters and founders of the website.[64]
2011 Recognition Icelandic investigative journalist and WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson is awarded The National Union of Journalists Journalist of the Year.[12]
2011 Recognition WikiLeaks is awarded The Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal, the Blanquerna Award for Best Communicator, the Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, the Voltaire Award for Free Speech, the International Piero Passetti Journalism Prize of the National Union of Italian Journalists, and the Jose Couso Press Freedom Award.[12]
2012 January Spin-off Honest Appalachia initiates as a website based in the United States intended to appeal to potential "whistleblowers" in West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, and serve as a replicable model for similar projects elsewhere.[65][66]
2012 February 23 Legal Bradley Manning is formally charged with aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, transmitting national defense information and theft of public property or records.[9]
2012 February Release WikiLeaks publishes secret emails from American geopolitical intelligence platform Stratfor that shows US authorities have drawn up secret charges against Assange.[67][9]
2012 March 8 Team Heather Marsh resigns from WikiLeaks.[68]
2012 July 5 Release WikiLeaks begins publishing more than 2.4 million emails from Syrian politicians, government ministries and companies.[9]
2012 June Legal Assange applies for asylum in Ecuador and seeks refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador, London, after his extradition appeal was denied and with a Swedish arrest warrant pending.[4] "According to a New York Times article, Assange came to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in June 2012, seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden. "[6]
2012 Recognition WikiLeaks is awarded The Privacy International Hero of Privacy.[12]
2013 February 4 Recognition Assange is awarded in New York with the Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts.[69]
2013 February 28 Legal Bradley Manning pleads guilty to some of the 22 charges against him, except the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence.[9]
2013 April Recognition WikiLeaks is awarded the Global Exchange Human Rights People’s Choice Award.[70]
2013 July Political campaign Assange launches the WikiLeaks Party in Australia and announces his candidacy for a seat in the Australian Senate.[4]
2013 August Legal Though being acquitted of aiding the enemy Bradley Manning is sentenced by military judge to 35 years in prison.[4][9]
2013 September 9 Spin-off A number of major Dutch media outlets support the launch of Publeaks, which provides a secure website for people to leak documents to the media using the GlobaLeaks whistleblowing software.[71][72]
2013 September 20 Recognition Assange is awarded the Brazillian Press Association Human Rights Award.[73]
2014 April Release Sony Pictures becomes the target of a massive data breach, and a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace soon begin releasing sensitive company information in small batches. The hack is eventually attributed to North Korea. The following April, WikiLeaks published more than 200,000 of the stolen documents in a searchable database, a move that was immediately criticized by Sony."[4]
2014 June Recognition Assange is awarded the Kazakstan Union of Journalists Top Prize.[74]
2015 January 26 WikiLeaks' lawyers address Google and the United States Department of Justice concerning a serious violation of the privacy and journalistic rights of WikiLeaks' staff, after investigations editor Sarah Harrison, Section Editor Joseph Farrell and senior journalist and spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson received notice that Google has handed over all their emails and metadata to the United States government on the back of alleged 'conspiracy' and 'espionage' warrants.[75]
2015 June 19 Release WikiLeaks publishes 500,000 cables and Foreign Ministry documents from the Saudi Government.[8]
2015 October Recognition WikiLeaks section editor Sarah Harrison is awarded the Willy Brandt Award for Political Courage.[76]
2015 November 16 Release WikiLeaks publishes the Final Texts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.[8]
2016 March Release WikiLeaks unveils a searchable archive containing 30,000 e-mail messages and attachments retrieved from a private server maintained by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as United States Secretary of State (2009–13). The collection is made public by the State Department through the Freedom of Information Act.[4]
2016 May 25 Release WikiLeaks publishes documents from the Trade in Services Agreement trade deal.[8]
2016 July 20 Censorship The Turkish government blocks access to Wikileaks after it releases nearly 300,000 emails involving the ruling Justice and Development Party. The email releases are in response to the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt.[77]
2016 July 22 Release An amount of nearly 20,000 emails from Democratic National Committee staffers is released by WikiLeaks. The emails appear to show the committee favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the United States presidential primary.[9]
2016 July Release WikiLeaks publishes more than 60,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mail messages and documents, days before the Democratic Party officially nominates Clinton as its candidate in the US Presidential Election 2016.[4]
2016 October 7 Release WikiLeaks publishes the Podesta emails, a collection of 58,660 emails from Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta.[8]
2016 October 11 Authenticity Writer Glenn Greenwald asserts that WikiLeaks has a "perfect, long-standing record of only publishing authentic documents."[78]
2016 October 13 Authenticity Columnist Eric Zorn writes "So far, it's possible, even likely, that every stolen email WikiLeaks has posted has been authentic." but cautions against assuming that future releases would be equally authentic.[79]
2016 October 16 Wikileaks tweets a series of three unusually cryptic, confusing messages, each containing a 64-character code. The posts are followed by rumors questioning whether Assange is dead or alive, with some people believing Assange was killed or is currently in grave danger, and that a dead man’s switch was activated.[80][81]
2016 December 1 Release WikiLeaks publishes the German BND-NSA Inquiry Exhibits, an amount of 90 gygabites of information relating to the BND-NSA Inquiry.[8]
2017 January 3 Assange announces in interview that Russia did not give WikiLeaks hacked emails.[9]
2017 January 12 WikiLeaks tweets that Assange will agree to be extradited to the United States if Obama grants clemency to Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning).[9]
2017 January 17 Legal United States President Barack Obama commutes the sentence of Chelsea Manning, setting the stage for her to be released on May 17.[82]
2017 January The WikiLeaks Task Force, a Twitter account associated with WikiLeaks,[83] proposes the creation of a database to track verified Twitter users, including sensitive personal information on individuals' homes, families and finances.[84][83][85] The Chicago Tribune would describe the proposal as facing a "sharp and swift backlash as technologists, journalists and security researchers slammed the idea as a 'sinister' and dangerous abuse of power and privacy."[84] Twitter furthermore bans the use of Twitter data for "surveillance purposes," stating "Posting another person's private and confidential information is a violation of the Twitter rules."[83]
2017 February 16 Release WikiLeaks publishes CIA espionage orders for the 2012 French presidential election.[8] Assange claims he has damaging information on the leading French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron having a homosexual affair.[86]
2017 March 7 Release WikiLeaks publishes thousands of internal CIA documents (known as Vault 7), including alleged discussions of a covert hacking program and the development of spy software targeting cellphones, smart TVs and computer systems in cars. Assange states that the website published the documents as a warning about the risk of the proliferation of "cyber weapons". However, the documents are not independently authenticated.[87]
2017 April Reaction In a speech addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies, CIA Director Mike Pompeo refers to WikiLeaks as "a non-state hostile intelligence service" and described founder Julian Assange as a narcissist, fraud, and coward.[88]
2017 May 3 Reaction FBI Director James Comey refers to WikiLeaks as "intelligence porn" during a Senate hearing, and declares that the site's disclosures are intended to damage the United States rather than educate the public.[9]
2017 May 17 Legal Chelsea Manning is released from prison.[89]
2017 October CNN reports that in 2016 a Cambridge Analytica executive approached WikiLeaks requesting access to emails from Hillary Clinton. Assange confirms the exchange in a tweet.[90]
2017 November 25 Release WikiLeaks publishes more than 500 documents from the United States Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen.[8]
2018 September 28 Release WikiLeaks publishes a secret document concerning a dispute over a £3.6 billion Middle Eastern arms deal.[8]
2018 October 11 Release WikiLeaks publishes a "Highly Confidential" internal document from the cloud computing provider Amazon.[8]
2019 January WikiLeaks sends a 5,000-word email to journalists listing 140 things they should not say about Assange, from asserting that he has been an agent of any intelligence service to that he has ever bleached his hair.[91]
2019 April Legal Assange asylum is rescinded, and he is indicted in the United States for violating the Espionage Act.[6]
2019 April Recognition Assange is awarded the Galizia Prize for Journalists, Whistleblowers & Defenders of the Right to Information.[92]

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See also

External links

References

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