Berlin – The online whistleblower platform WikiLeaks said on Thursday that hundreds of thousands of secret, unfiltered US diplomatic cables are now available online in a security breach it blamed on Britain’s Guardian newspaper.
In a turnaround, the organisation that has been criticised for releasing a trove of the cables since November, said a password that provides access to the raw files was released by the Guardian.
The newspaper, which had been among the mainstream media partners of WikiLeaks in the release of the redacted cables, denied the charges.
Assange provided password
“Guardian investigations editor, David Leigh, recklessly, and without gaining our approval, knowingly disclosed the decryption passwords in a book published by the Guardian,” WikiLeaks said in a Twitter post.
In Leigh’s book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, published in February, the author writes about how WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange provided him with the password to give him access to WikiLeaks’ cable archive.
But the Guardian called the information in the book “meaningless” and said WikiLeaks did not express concern about the password’s release when the book was published.
“It’s nonsense to suggest the Guardian’s WikiLeaks book has compromised security in any way,” the newspaper said.
“… 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.
“If anyone at WikiLeaks had thought this compromised security, they have had seven months to remove the files,” it argued. “That they didn’t do so clearly shows the problem was not caused by the Guardian’s book.”
WikiLeaks argued that free access to the documents would place people in danger. Media reports said the original documents that have surfaced on the internet contain names of people who supplied information to US diplomats, some of which was sensitive.
The earlier, official release of the cables was controlled by WikiLeaks and information that might bring harm to diplomatic sources was removed.