WikiLeaks makes diplomacy difficult, says UN head

Ban Ki-moon: World must find way to respect privacy of senior officials; alleged US document leaker's lawyer claims mistreatment of client.

December 18, 2010 05:44
1 minute read.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

ban ki moon in bishkek 311. (photo credit: AP)

UNITED NATIONS—  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday stated that WikiLeaks' release of US diplomatic documents will make the conduct of business, and especially diplomacy, "very difficult."

On Nov. 29, The Guardian newspaper in Britain published a document dated July 2009 instructing US officials to gather intelligence about Ban and other top UN officials and diplomats, including technical details on communication systems, biometric information, as well as credit card and frequent-flyer numbers.

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At a new conference Friday, Ban said he is "quite transparent" but that there must be a way to respect the confidentiality of doing business as secretary-general or in any other senior position.

The secretary-general's comment came on the same day as the US Defense Department sought to deny reports that the US Army private suspected of passing much classified information to WikiLeaks, including the well-publicized trove of diplomatic cables, is being mistreated at a Marine prison near Washington.

Jeff Paterson, director of the California-based Courage to Resist project, said visitors report that Pfc. Bradley Manning generally spends at least 23 hours a day alone in a cell no larger than about 64 square feet (6 sq. meters).

"We believe it's a form of punishment prior to conviction," Paterson said of the terms of Manning's confinement while awaiting possible court martial.

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Paterson has not visited Manning personally but others who have described conditions in the prison.

Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told reporters that Manning has the same privileges as all other prisoners held in what the military calls "maximum custody."

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