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WikiLeaks sparks fury with release of unredacted cables

LONDON, Sept 2 – Anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks published Friday its full archive of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables unredacted and easily accessible online, drawing a furious response from its media partners.

The website confirmed in a message on its Twitter account that all the US embassy cables had been placed online “in searchable format”, with a link to a site containing the sensitive documents.

WikiLeaks had been slowly releasing the leaked cables since November and had largely worked with media groups which trawled through the information to delete the names of sources who spoke to US diplomats.

But the decision by the site to dump the remaining documents in one go and apparently without editorial checks is hugely controversial and will anger the United States.

Washington had warned that dumping the documents unredacted could put the lives of its informants in danger.

Previous releases hugely embarrassed the United States, detailing its diplomats’ candid views of foreign leaders and governments around the world and the final batch promised more of the same.

WikiLeaks said Thursday it was taking the decision to publish the full cache of documents after accusing the Guardian newspaper in Britain of leaking the password to the archive. The Guardian denies the allegation.

Among the newly released documents were tens of thousands from countries with which the United States has difficult relationships, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Venezuela.

Washington reacted angrily last week when WikiLeaks released 134,000 of the cables, with many showing the unprotected names of informants and other individuals who had spoken to US diplomats.

Four of WikiLeaks’ media partners — the Guardian, the New York Times, German news magazine Der Spiegel and Spanish daily El Pais — swiftly distanced themselves from the site, saying the decision to publish was taken by WikliLeaks’ founder Julian Assange alone.

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“We deplore the decision of Wikileaks to publish the unredacted State Department cables, which may put sources at risk,” said a joint statement from the papers.

“Our previous dealings with WikiLeaks were on the clear basis that we would only publish cables which had been subjected to a thorough editing and clearance process.

“We cannot defend the needless publication of the complete data — indeed, we are united in condemning it.”

Assange is currently living under stringent bail conditions in Britain, fighting extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over alleged rape and sexual assault.

The State Department said Thursday WikiLeaks had informed the United States in advance of the document releases, but ignored US appeals that making them public could endanger lives and put US national security at risk.

“We have made clear our views and concerns about illegally disclosed classified information and the continuing risk to individuals and national security that such releases cause,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

US soldier Bradley Manning is suspected of leaking the cables and other military documents to WikiLeaks. He was arrested in June last year while deployed in Iraq and is being held in a US military prison.


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