Major WikiLeaks developments

There have been some major developments by WikiLeaks over the past couple of days. WikiLeaks itself is pointing to this story as a good summary. In brief, it looks like the full WikiLeaks cables can be downloaded, and that the password is available in a book by Guardian journalist David Leigh. (A quick search yields a torrent magnet, but I have not downloaded them myself.) Although this has apparently been the situation for several months, it has only recently been widely realised.

Somewhat confusingly, WikiLeaks is holding a global poll asking whether the full cables should be released. (It may be they mean without redactions, since there is an issue with names of people appearing in the cables.)

WikiLeaks has an explanation on their site here. They accuse the Guardian newspaper of revealing the password, and of passing the cables to the New York Times in contravention of a signed Memorandum of Understanding.

In a statement, the Guardian denied responsibility for revealing the password:

“The paper utterly rejects any suggestion that it is responsible for the release of the unedited cables. The Guardian’s book about WikiLeaks was published last February. No concerns about security were expressed when the book was published or at any stage during the past seven months.”

They continue:

However, at a later stage the same encrypted file and at least one other encrypted with the same password was posted on the peer-to-peer file-sharing network BitTorrent. One of these files was first published on 7 December 2010, just hours before Assange’s arrest. In the days running up to his arrest, Assange had spoken of “taking precautions” in the event of anything untoward happening to him.

This file, it was later discovered, was the same file that had been shared with the Guardian via the secure server. It shared the same file name and file size, and could be unlocked using the same password as that given to Leigh.

If this is correct, that the same file was later put around with the same password, then we would need an explanation for that by WikiLeaks.

If the Leigh/Guardian book appeared after the file was distributed, however, that would appear to throw responsibility back to the Guardian.

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