Israel, along with various US allies around the world, was on high alert Sunday morning, after being briefed by
American diplomats about an expected release of classified US files by the
WikiLeaks website that is likely to cause international embarrassment and could
damage some nations’ relations with the United States.
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The release of
hundreds of thousands of State Department cables is expected in the next 24 hours,
although WikiLeaks has not been specific about the timing. There has been some
speculation that the cables could be posted on the Web late Sunday
The cables are thought to include private, candid assessments of
foreign leaders and governments and could erode trust in the US as a diplomatic
An Israeli government source said that already last Wednesday
the US had informed Israel that it could be mentioned in the anticipated
WikiLeaks release of the classified US cables and documents.
not want us to hear about it from the media.
We appreciated the phone
call and we thanked them for giving us the heads up,” the official
Another Israeli official added that the American Embassy in Tel
Aviv had been calling Israelis named in the documents in order to warn them in
advance. The list includes officials in the Foreign Ministry, as well as aides
to prime ministers, this official said.
According to the International
, which quoted a posting it saw briefly on Der Spiegel
the documents could include 251,287 cables and 8,000 diplomatic
Most of the cables are from the last five years. Some 9,005
documents are from the first two months of 2010.The International
reported that Der Spiegel
, The New York Times
, The Guardian
and El País
had access to the files in advance.
In Britain, Prime
Minister David Cameron’s spokesman Steve Field said Friday that his government had been
told of “the likely content of these leaks” by US Ambassador Louis Susman. Field
declined to say what Britain had been warned to expect.
“I don’t want to
speculate about precisely what is going to be leaked before it is leaked,” Field
In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said US
diplomats were continuing the process of warning governments around the world
about what might be in the documents. Many fear the cables will embarrass the US
and its allies, and reveal sensitive details of how the country conducts
relations with others.
“We are all bracing for what may be coming and
condemn WikiLeaks for the release of classified material,” he said. “It will
place lives and interests at risk. It is irresponsible.”
revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests,” Crowley said.
“They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our
friends around the world.”
Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini,
said he spoke Friday with the US State Department, which told him that there
would be documents regarding Italy in the leak, “but the content can’t be
“We’re talking about thousands and thousands of classified
documents that the US will not comment on, as is their custom,” Frattini
The governments of Canada and Norway also said they had been
briefed by US officials.
In Iraq, US Ambassador James F.
told reporters that the leaks represent a serious obstacle to international
“We are worried about additional documents coming out,” he
“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.”
In Norway, US officials
released a statement from the ambassador to the newspaper Dagbladet with the
understanding that it would not be published until after the WikiLeaks material
came out, but the newspaper published the material ahead of time.
quoted US Ambassador to Norway Barry White saying that, while he could not vouch
for the authenticity of the documents, he expected them to contain US officials’
candid assessments of political leaders and movements in other countries. He
said diplomats had to be able to have private, honest discussions to do their
Diplomatic cables are internal documents that would include a range
of secret communications between US diplomatic outposts and State Department
headquarters in Washington.
WikiLeaks has said the release will be seven
times the size of its October leak of 400,000 Iraq war documents, already the
biggest leak in US intelligence history.
The US says it has known for
some time that WikiLeaks held the diplomatic cables. No one has been charged
with passing them to the website, but suspicion focuses on US Army Pfc. Bradley
Manning, an intelligence analyst arrested in Iraq in June and charged over an
Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, said Friday that he
had been “told that the person responsible for this leak has been
The Italian Foreign Ministry later said Frattini was talking
WikiLeaks, which also has released secret US documents
about the war in Afghanistan, was founded by Julian Assange.
Australian former computer hacker is currently wanted by Sweden for questioning
in a drawn-out rape probe. Assange, 39, is suspected of rape, sexual molestation
and unlawful coercion. He has denied the allegations, which stem from his
encounters with two women during a visit to Sweden.Gil Hoffman
contributed to this report.