WikiLeaks: Guardian denies claim it acted recklessly
Published 01/09/2011 | 08:47
The Guardian today described as "nonsense" a claim by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks that thousands of unedited US diplomatic cables had been exposed because of a security breach by the newspaper.
WikiLeaks said that it had been releasing cables over nine months "according to a carefully laid out plan to stimulate profound changes", but its work had been compromised as a result of the newspaper's "recklessness".
A Guardian News & Media spokeswoman 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.
"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."
However, WikiLeaks said: "Revolutions and reforms are in danger of being lost as the unpublished cables spread to intelligence contractors and governments before the public."
It added: "Every day that the corrupt leadership of a country or organisation knows of a pending WikiLeaks disclosure is a day spent planning how to crush revolution and reform."
It claimed that Guardian investigations editor David Leigh "recklessly, and without gaining our approval, knowingly disclosed the decryption passwords in a book published by the Guardian" and that the newspaper's "disclosure" was a violation of the confidentiality agreement between WikiLeaks and Alan Rusbridger, its editor-in-chief, signed on July 30 last year.
Mr Leigh told the Associated Press that the WikiLeaks' claims were "time-wasting nonsense".
He said that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had supplied him with a password needed to access the US embassy cables from a server in July 2010 - but that Mr Assange had assured him the site would expire within a matter of hours.
He said: "What we published much later in our book was obsolete and harmless. We did not disclose the URL (web address) where the file was located, and in any event, Assange had told us it would no longer exist."
He added: "I don't see how a member of the public could access such a file anyway, unless a WikiLeaks or ex-WikiLeaks person tells them where it is located and what the file was called."