Five news organizations and one nonprofit that once worked with WikiLeaks strongly condemned the website and its founder, Julian Assange, for releasing its entire stack of more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables uncensored. "We deplore the decision of WikiLeaks to publish the unredacted state department cables, which may put sources at risk," the Guardian, New York Times, El Pais, Der Spiegel, and Le Monde said in a joint statement. “The decision to publish by Julian Assange was his, and his alone.”
The publication comes after a confusing spat between WikiLeaks and the Guardian over who was responsible for an earlier release of thousands of unredacted cables. The Guardian claims that Assange gave its reporter a copy of the password that would grant the newspaper “access to a special online service …. which would only remain in existence for a short time.” Yet the Guardian didn’t seem to realize that Assange had given them the organization’s master password. Assuming the password had long been obsolete, the Guardian published it in a book earlier this year.
“To get a copy you would usually make a new copy with a new password. He was too lazy to create something new,” said Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the group’s former number two. Of course, WikiLeaks blames the Guardian.
WikiLeaks ran a poll asking whether it should go ahead with the publication and reportedly the results were “over 100 to 1 in favor.” The Guardian claims there are several thousand files labeled as “Strictly protect,” meaning sources could be in danger if they were identified. More than 150 files “specifically mention whistleblowers,” notes the Guardian, and other files include the names of victims of sexual crimes and the locations of sensitive buildings.
Reporters Without Borders, which had earlier agreed to keep a backup copy of WikiLeaks’ information, said it no longer supported the group, noting that “the repercussions [the cables] could have for informants, such as dismissal, physical attacks and other reprisals, cannot be neglected.”
For his part, New York Times Editor Bill Keller told Reuters: “It's sad that—whether out of a craving for attention, or an absolutist doctrine of 'transparency,' or some more malign motive, I can't judge—WikiLeaks has decided on this irresponsible course.”