WASHINGTON — US State Department officials said Tuesday that secret instructions to American diplomats to gather sensitive personal information about foreign leaders originated with the U.S. intelligence community. The officials denied that American diplomats were required to spy.
The classified US diplomatic dispatches containing the instructions were divulged last weekend in leaked documents published by WikiLeaks. The revelations led to criticism that US envoys could be blurring the line between espionage and diplomacy.
A senior department official said the requests for DNA, iris scans and other biometric data on foreign government and U.N. diplomats came from American "intelligence community managers." The official said American diplomats were free to ignore the requests and that virtually all do.