The Australian-born Julian Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 and he has been a wanted man ever since.
Designed as a "not-for-profit media organization," it was dreamed up by Assange, because he felt mainstream media was not properly holding governments to account and was too scared of losing its advertising or being closed down if it exposed serious wrongdoing.
Assange had registered the domain name, a play on Wikipedia, in 1999 and it was always his intention to get hold of highly confidential material.
On its website it says: "WikiLeaks specializes in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption."
For the US government, and many others, that statement alone makes it a hostile organization which threatens the secrecy which the CIA, the Secret Service and the US diplomatic corps rely on.
Today: our editor Julian Assange has now been detained without charge for five years at the embassy--nearly 7 total https://t.co/eKrJDHLa8N— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) 19 June 2017
When WikiLeaks published its most damaging revelations in the spring of 2010 — diplomatic cables which had been leaked by US soldier Bradley Manning — Assange was threatened by the US with prosecution under the 1917 Espionage Act.
In August 2010 the Swedish prosecutor's office issued an arrest warrant for Assange, in connection with allegations of rape and molestation by two women dating from incidents earlier that summer.
In May 2012, Britain's Supreme Court ruled that he should be extradited to Sweden and the following month Assange accepted Ecuador's offer of sanctuary and vanished behind the doors of the Latin American nation's embassy. He has been there ever since.
But despite all this WikiLeaks did not fold. So how was it able to soldier on?
As WikiLeaks grew Assange realized he had to cooperate with like-minded individuals and he worked with people like Daniel Domscheit-Berg, in Germany, and others.
But Assange's abrasive personality makes him a hard person to get along with and Domscheit-Berg quit in 2010, setting up his own site, OpenLeaks, with little success.
A source with knowledge of how WikiLeaks operates said:
"WikiLeaks hasn't operated without Julian. It doesn't exist independently of him at all. It consists of him and whoever he has persuaded to help him at any point," the source told Sputnik.
"If there's money, some of them get paid a little. If not, they're just volunteers. There have never been more than a handful of helpers. There have been times when it was Julian alone," they added.
"For the last five years, he has been running things from inside the Ecuadorean embassy."
WikiLeaks reportedly employs a small paid staff, who work in various secret locations and is supported by around a thousand volunteers.
In December 2010, the US government forced PayPal and a number of credit card companies to stop accepting donations for WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks has also been the target of several Denial of Service attacks by hackers, possibly employed by the US government.
Bradley Manning, the soldier who has undergone a sex change and is now known as Chelsea Manning, was released from prison last month after President Obama commuted the sentence.