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WikiLeaks denies charges it put lives in danger

Washington, September 1, 2011

WikiLeaks is defending itself against accusations that it may have put lives at risk by dumping uncensored US diplomatic cables on the Internet.

In a series of cryptic Twitter messages, WikiLeaks suggested that sloppy handling by people who formerly worked with WikiLeaks and at least one mainstream media outlet resulted in the inadvertent disclosure of unredacted versions of all 251,000 State Department cables which the whistleblowing website is believed to possess.

Meanwhile, US government officials have criticized WikiLeaks itself for including in its latest public release of tens of thousands of cables some documents which identify suspected militants and US Embassy contacts by name.

The latest squabble among current and former WikiLeaks insiders has become increasingly heated and arcane. But the key issue is who, if anyone, released unedited documents that could put those named at risk or complicate anti-terrorism operations.

In a message on its Twitter feed, which WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is believed to control, WikiLeaks accused an unnamed "mainstream news organization" of having "disclosed all 251k unredacted cables." In an earlier message on Tuesday, WikiLeaks said: "There has been no WikiLeaks error. There has been a grossly negligent mainstream media error, to put it generously."

Earlier this week, German publications and a blog published by Wired magazine claimed that a 1.73 gigabyte password-protected file containing all the uncensored cables was "reportedly circulating somewhere on the Internet." Wired quoted the editor of German publication Der Freitag saying that his paper had found the file and "easily obtained the password to unlock it."

Two people familiar with behind-the-scenes machinations involving Assange and his former associates said that privately, Assange was blaming the alleged website security slip-up on his former WikiLeaks collaborator, Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Assange also was accusing London's Guardian newspaper of making public the key to the alleged password-protected file in a book on WikiLeaks published earlier this year by two of the paper's journalists.

A Guardian spokesperson said: "It's nonsense to suggest the Guardian's WikiLeaks book has compromised security in any way. Our book about WikiLeaks was published last February. It contained a password, but no details of the location of the files and we were told it was a temporary password which would expire and be deleted in a matter of hours." – Reuters




Tags: Washington | Twitter | Wikileaks | Assange |

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