WikiLeaks’ next document cache expected to detail three million secret diplomatic cables
Update at bottom: UK government requests media brief them on all WikiLeaks related stories
Washington’s envoy to Iraq condemned WikiLeaks as “absolutely awful” Friday as world capitals braced for the looming release of some three million sensitive diplomatic cables by the whistleblower website.
The latest tranche of documents, the third since WikiLeaks published 77,000 classified US files on the Afghan conflict in July, have spurred Washington to warn both Turkey and Israel of the embarrassment they could cause, and American diplomats have also briefed officials in London, Oslo and Copenhagen.
“We are worried about additional documents coming out,” US ambassador to Baghdad James Jeffrey told reporters at an embassy briefing.
“WikiLeaks are an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people. I do not understand the motivation for releasing these documents.
“They will not help, they will simply hurt our ability to do our work here.”
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told AFP on Wednesday that the United States was “gearing up for the worst-case scenario, that leaked cables will touch on a wide range of issues and countries.”
“We are prepared if this upcoming tranche of documents includes State Department cables. We are in touch with our posts around the world. They have begun the process of informing governments that a release of documents is possible in the near future,” Crowley said.
He added: “These revelations… are going to create tensions on our relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.”
WikiLeaks has not specified what the tranche of documents pertains to or when it would be released, but Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said US officials were expecting a possible release of documents “late this week or early next week.”
The website has so far only said there would be “seven times” as many secret documents as the 400,000 it posted in Iraq war logs published last month.
Among the countries to have been alerted so far about the release of the documents are Britain, Denmark, Israel, Norway and Turkey, officials and reports said.
Washington contacted authorities in Ankara to give “us information on the issue, just as other countries have been informed,” a senior Turkish diplomat told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to Turkish media reports, the planned release includes papers suggesting that Turkey helped Al-Qaeda militants in Iraq, and that the United States helped Iraq-based separatist Kurdish rebels fighting against Turkey.
Israel has also been warned of potential embarrassment from the release, which could include confidential reports from the US embassy in Tel Aviv, Haaretz newspaper said on Thursday, citing a senior Israeli official.
“The Americans said they view the leak very seriously,” the official told the paper, on condition of anonymity.
And respected Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Friday that the files could harm Moscow’s relationship with Washington, saying the cables contain general assessments of the political situation in Russia and “unflattering characteristics” of Russian leaders.
Officials in London, Stockholm and Copenhagen were also all either briefed by US diplomats or received contacts from local American missions about the impending release, officials in each country said.
WikiLeaks argues the release of the documents — US soldier-authored incident reports from 2004 to 2009 — has shed light on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, including allegations of torture by Iraqi forces and reports that suggested 15,000 additional civilian deaths in Iraq.
Its announcement on Monday came just days after Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for the website’s head, Julian Assange of Australia, wanted for questioning in connection with allegations of rape and sexual molestation.
UK government requests media brief them on all WikiLeaks related stories
WikiLeaks tweeted Friday that the British government had requested that the media brief them on all new stories about Wikileaks.
“UK Government has issued a ‘D-notice’ warning to all UK news editors, asking to be briefed on upcoming WikiLeaks stories,” WikiLeaks said.
According to WikiLeaks, D-Notice 1 and D-Notice 5 have been invoked. A D-Notice 1 has to do with military operations while a D-Notice 5 regards UK security and intelligence services.
The D-Notice website offers the following description of D-Notice 5:
Information falling within the following categories is normally regarded as being highly classified. It is requested that such information, unless it has been the subject of an official announcement or has been widely disclosed or discussed, should not be published without first seeking advice.
The Guardian‘s Alan Rusbridger tweeted that he was “puzzled” by the D-Notice 5 notification. “Overwhelming majority of t stuff not covered. ‘Safety + security of Brits’ nothing to do w DNotice,” he wrote.
Wikipedia notes that D-Notices are voluntary:
D-Notices and DA-notices are merely a request and therefore not legally enforceable and consequently news editors can choose to ignore them without (in theory) official repercussions, although they are generally accepted by the media