WikiLeaks on Monday compiled more than 500,000 diplomatic cables from President Jimmy Carter’s administration.
The cables, all of which were sent by State Department officials in 1979, could offer additional insight to researchers and journalists about the United States’ activity in a momentous year that saw the Iranian Revolution and the political rise of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“If any year could be said to be the ‘year zero’ of our modern era, 1979 is it," WikiLeaks head Julian Assange said in a statement.
“In 1979 it seemed as if the blood would never stop. Dozens of countries saw assassinations, coups, revolts, bombings, political kidnappings and wars of liberation.”
The Carter administration that year experienced the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis, which would ultimately leave a dark stain on the 39th president's time in office.
Messages about the crisis are contained in the new trove, which includes classified material below the top-secret level.
On Nov. 4, a confidential cable notified the State Department in Washington that the embassy was “in negotiations” with the “apparent leader” of a group of attackers who seemed to want to take control of the embassy “as [a] symbolic gesture.”
“Leader [of the] occupying force indicated that they have no desire to cause any harm to any government employees,” the cable added.
A separate, unclassified cable that day notified Washington that the “demonstrators” had gained access to the embassy’s bottom floor shortly after 11 a.m.
More than 60 Americans would ultimately be held hostage for 444 days in the crisis, which followed the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was supported by the U.S.
The cables were previously declassified and released by the National Archives and Records Administration, but compiled in a new form for easier access by WikiLeaks.
The release on Monday is meant to mark the sixth anniversary of WikiLeaks' first release of diplomatic cables, which were given to news organizations including The New York Times and The Guardian. In the years since, the collection of materials has repeatedly been used as a reference for insight on the U.S.’s thinking about foreign officials and historical events.
Since 2010, the anti-secrecy organization has compiled more than 3 million cables, many of which date to the 1970s.
In recent weeks, WikiLeaks been championed by the right as a result of a steady release of emails allegedly stolen from John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Armageddon elections to come Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' MORE’s presidential campaign, during the final weeks before the election.
— Updated on Dec. 6 to note that the cables were previously released by the National Archives and Records Administration