Friday 21 July 2017

Firms here vital to US security -- WikiLeaks

Ailish O'Hora

Ailish O'Hora

TWO Irish locations have been named by secret-spilling website WikiLeaks in a list of worldwide sites the US deems vital to its national security.

They are the Hibernia Atlantic transatlantic communications cable linking the US to Ireland and the Waterford-based bio-tech plant Genzyme.

This is the second time Ireland has been caught up in the international diplomatic crisis caused by the website's release of 250,000 secret messages sent from US embassies worldwide.

Publication of the information has prompted criticism that WikiLeaks is helping militants identify targets for attack through its disclosures.

The 12,200km Hibernia Atlantic cable is a transatlantic submarine broadband system linking North America with Ireland, the UK and Europe.

Genzyme's 37-acre biotechnology site is a subsidiary of a Massachusetts-based multinational, which employs just over 460 outside Waterford city.

It produces Thymoglobulin -- a kidney transplant rejection treatment product -- as well as other products.

Neither Genzyme nor Hibernia Atlantic would comment on the leaks yesterday.

The overall list includes pipelines, communication sites and transport hubs and begins with a cobalt mine in Kinshasa, Congo.

The latest list came after the US State Department last year asked its missions abroad to name all installations whose loss could critically affect the country's national security.

Last week, WikiLeaks published details of diplomatic tensions between Ireland and the US over public fears that Shannon Airport could be used for extraordinary renditions.

Former US ambassador James Kenny raised the possibility that the US military might stop using Shannon as a transit hub after the Government introduced tighter procedures to monitor flights.

The memo was written by the then ambassador to former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and other officials.

In it, Mr Kenny claimed tighter procedures -- which required more detailed paperwork on munitions flights to be submitted -- were introduced by the Government in August 2006 as a ploy to dampen criticism ahead of the 2007 General Election.

Embarrassing

Other cables have also proved embarrassing for international leaders and ambassadors.

A leak on Sunday revealed that Australia's foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, allegedly said at a lunch with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the West should be prepared to use force against China "if everything goes wrong".

Meanwhile, international pressure has piled on WiliLeaks founder Julian Assange after the banking arm of the Swiss Post Office announced it had closed his account because he had given "false information".

Swedish prosecutors have also reportedly sent an international arrest warrant to the British police seeking his extradition for allegations -- which he denies -- of rape and unlawful coercion.

World news: page 31

Irish Independent

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