WikiLeaks’ mystery cable, US backlash and Guardian row

On the heels of its recent release of US diplomatic cables WikiLeaks has released an encrypted file after telling its followers on Twitter to “stay tuned for an important announcement.”

The contents of the 571 megabyte file are a mystery as it cannot be accessed without a decryption key, which the anti-secrecy website said would be released “at the appropriate moment.”

This is not the first time that WikiLeaks has released an encrypted file. Last year, the site posted what it called an “insurance file” a 1.4-gigabyte file which was intended for public release in the event of something unforeseen happening to the site’s founder, Julian Assange.

Assange is currently fighting extradition from Britain to Sweden where he is wanted to face questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault.

WikiLeaks is currently under fire from the US State Department following the latest release of diplomatic cables which the State department “strongly condemns” as an “illegal disclosure of classified information”.

“In addition to damaging our diplomatic efforts, it puts individuals’ security at risk, threatens our national security and undermines our effort to work with countries to solve shared problems,” said Victoria Nuland, Spokeswoman for the US State Department.

“We remain concerned about these illegal disclosures and about concerns and risks to individuals,” she said.

In a message on its Twitter page, however, WikiLeaks said it was “totally false” that any of its “sources have been exposed or will be exposed.”

This is not the only situation the whistle-blowing site is dealing with this week. In a BBC report WikiLeaks has blamed the Guardian newspaper for unredacted versions of the 251 000 diplomatic cables being leaked on the internet.

The whistle-blowing site said it had started legal action against the paper because of the disclosure.

In a Twitter statement WikiLeaks said:

A Guardian journalist has, in a previously undetected act of gross negligence or malice, and in violation a signed security agreement with the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, disclosed top secret decryption passwords to the entire, unredacted, WikiLeaks Cablegate archive. We have already spoken to the State Department and commenced pre-litigation action. We will issue a formal statement in due course.

The newspaper has strongly denied the claims that it is in any way responsible for the “security breach”. In statement released on its website, the Guardian calls the accusations “nonsense”:

“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.

“It was a meaningless piece of information to anyone except the person(s) who created the database. No concerns were expressed when the book was published and if anyone at WikiLeaks had thought this compromised security they have had seven months to remove the files. That they didn’t do so clearly shows the problem was not caused by the Guardian’s book.”

The cables in question were shared with the Guardian through a secure server for a period of hours, according to the newspaper. The server was taken offline and all files removed, as per an agreement by both parties. A file with the same password was republished later on BitTorrent without links to WikiLeaks.



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