Wikileaks is blaming the British newspaper The Guardianfor a security breach that resulted in the release of over 251,000 unredacted diplomatic cables, calling it “the guardian’s hacking scandal.”
Wikileaks recently released 134,000 cables obtained from the State Department, its biggest document dump yet. In the latest release, Julian Assange and the site were criticized for not redacting over 100 sensitive names in the cables — including informants and Embassy officials.
But the real problem is a file of the full set of the unredacted cables, which is believed to have been obtained by a Twitter user who breached Wikieaks’ system. On August 25, Wikileaks reportedly contacted the State Department to inform them of the breach, and warn that the documents may all soon be made public.
In a tweet earlier this week, Wikileaks denied that it accidentally released the cables: “There has been no WikiLeaks error. There has been a grossly negligent mainstream media error, to put it generously.” Another tweet early Thursday morning pointed the finger at the Guardian: “This is the guardian’s hacking scandal. At the center, bizarrely, the Guardian journalist who confessed to phone hacking.”
In a statement, Wikileaks website more explicitly blamed Guardian reporters David Leigh and Luke Harding, who released a book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy in February:
A Guardian journalist has, in a previously undetected act of gross negligence or malice, and in violation of a signed security agreement with the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, disclosed top secret decryption passwords to the entire, unredacted, WikiLeaks Cablegate archive. We have already spoken to the state department and commenced pre-litigation action. We will issue a formal statement in due course.
The Guardian has denied that it played any role in the release of the cables, saying in a statement: “It’s nonsense to suggest the Guardian’s WikiLeaks book has compromised security in any way. Our book about WikiLeaks was published last February. It contained a password, but no details of the location of the files, and we were told it was a temporary password which would expire and be deleted in a matter of hours.”
The statement continued: “No concerns were expressed when the book was published and if anyone at WikiLeaks had thought this compromised security they have had seven months to remove the files. That they didn’t do so clearly shows the problem was not caused by the Guardian’s book.”
The Guardian was one of five news organizations to work with Wikileaks to initially release the State Department cables over the past nine months. The others news organizations were the New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El Pais.