Clinton accuses WikiLeaks of ‘attack’ on the world
WASHINGTON: Top US diplomat Hillary Clinton on Monday accused WikiLeaks of an “attack” on the world, as key American allies were left red-faced by embarrassing revelations in a vast trove of leaked memos.
In a lengthy statement, the US secretary of state was apologetic to US allies as she told reporters she “deeply regrets” the release of the more than 250,000 diplomatic cables, all apparently from the State Department.
“This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community,” Clinton said, following talks in Washington with Turkey’s foreign minister.
“I want you to know that we are taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information,” as well as taking steps to prevent future disclosures, she added. The flood of leaked US diplomatic cables revealed secret details and indiscreet asides on some of the world’s most tense international crises.
Officials were quick to criticise the release of the documents - most of which date from between 2007 and February 2010 - and to stress the leaks would not harm relations. The cables were given to journalists from five Western publications several weeks ago and are being released on the Internet in stages.
WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange described the mass of documentation as a “diplomatic history of the United States” covering “every major issue.” Despite a cyber attack claimed by a private computer hacker that took down its main website on Sunday, WikiLeaks started publishing 251,287 cables - 15,652 of which are classified “secret” - on http://cablegate.wikileaks.org.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama was decidedly “not pleased” by the release of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic memos by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, his spokesman said on Monday.
Earlier, Attorney General Eric Holder told a press conference that they were carrying out a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and would pursue the whistle-blower website’s chief if he were found to have broken the law. “We have an active, ongoing criminal investigation with regard to this matter. We are not in the position, as yet, to announce the result of that investigation,” he said, adding that the justice and defence departments were both probing the website.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, in the meanwhile, said the release by WikiLeaks of stolen classified diplomatic cables represents a “serious crime.” afp