US warns allies of new release of files from WikiLeaks

 

THE UNITED States has begun notifying foreign governments that the impending release of classified documents by online whistleblower WikiLeaks may contain diplomatic cables that could “create tension” with allies.

The UK, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Denmark, Canada, Australia and Norway have all been warned by US officials to expect potential embarrassment from the leaked files.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said no such approach had been made to the Government or the department.

WikiLeaks has flagged up the release in its Twitter feed, describing it as “seven times the size of the Iraq War Log”.

It claims “the Pentagon is hyperventilating again over fears of being held to account.

The organisation has not indicated when it will release the documents, but it is expected to happen within the next week.

“These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests,” US state department spokesman PJ Crowley said earlier this week.

“They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.”

Mr Crowley said the release of confidential communications about foreign governments would damage trust in the US as a diplomatic partner and could cause embarrassment if the files included critical comments about friendly foreign leaders.

“When this confidence is betrayed and ends up on the front pages of newspapers or lead stories on television or radio, it has an impact,” Mr Crowley added.

Many of the documents are believed to concern Europe, but the leaked diplomatic cables are likely to also deal with relations with countries in Asia and elsewhere, a source close to WikiLeaks told Reuters.

The diplomatic cables include a range of secret communications between US diplomatic missions overseas and state department headquarters in Washington.

They are likely to contain information ranging from the mundane, such as routine reporting on meetings between US and foreign government officials, to the more controversial, such as frank assessments of foreign leaders or the extent to which US diplomats lean on allies to achieve goals.

There is speculation that the documents may shed light on the kinds of pressure the Obama administration exerted on countries to accept the transfer of Guantánamo Bay inmates who were cleared for release but who were unable to return to their homes countries for fear of mistreatment.

Ireland agreed to resettle two such detainees from Uzbekistan. The two men arrived late last year.

This week, Al-Hayat, a London-based Arabic language newspaper, claimed that the release would reveal US support for the PKK, a Turkish separatist group officially listed by the state department as a terrorist organisation, and would include documentation suggesting that Turkey had helped al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Earlier this year WikiLeaks released thousands of military field reports on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.