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Assange and WikiLeaks: A view from Kenya

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In August 2007, very few people in Kenya had heard of Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, his "uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking and public analysis". The organisation was barely a year old and had posted a handful of documents.

Then they leaked the Kroll report - an investigation commissioned in 2003 by the newly elected Mwai Kibaki administration in an attempt to uncover where the former dictator, Daniel arap Moi, and his family and cronies had stashed away the hundreds of millions of dollars they had stolen from Kenyans in the previous quarter of a century.

Kroll Associates, the consultancy firm hired to lead the investigation, eventually traced over $1.3bn in cash and assets spread out in nearly 30 countries. The report, which provided a rare comprehensive look at the scale of the looting, was submitted to the Kenyan government in 2004, by which time the Kibaki government had not only lost the appetite to fight corruption, but was itself deeply engaged in "gluttonous eating". So, the report was buried.

And buried it might have stayed were it not for WikiLeaks, which somehow got a hold of it and, in conjunction with the Guardian, published its details. For once, Kenyans were afforded an unvarnished and detailed glimpse of the amount of national wealth that was being stolen by the very people tasked with protecting it.

Three years later, the Kenyan public would again benefit from a cache of documents published by WikiLeaks. The leaked US diplomatic cables it released revealed what Kenyan politicians were saying to American envoys behind closed doors and how different it was from the public........

© Al Jazeera