Pentagon rushes to block release of classified files on Wikileaks

It has the ingredients of a spy thriller: an American military analyst turned whistleblower; 260,000 classified government documents; and rumours that the world's most powerful country is hunting a former hacker whom it believes is about to publish them.

Pentagon and State Department officials are desperately trying to discover whether Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence officer currently under arrest in Kuwait, has leaked highly sensitive embassy cables to Wikileaks.org, an online community of some 800 volunteer cyber experts, activists, journalists and lawyers which has become a thorn in the side of governments and corrupt corporations across the globe.

Reports in the US say officials are seeking to apprehend Julian Assange, the website's founder who has pioneered the release of the kind of information the mainstream media are either unwilling or unable to publish.

Manning, 22, an intelligence analyst from Potomac, Maryland, who had been serving in Iraq, was revealed earlier this week as the source behind a highly damning leak earlier in the year that showed harrowing cockpit footage of an American Apache helicopter gunning down unarmed civilians in Baghdad three years ago.

But the Apache video may have proven to be one leak too far. Adrian Lamo, a former US hacker turned journalist who had been conversing with Manning online and later gave up his name to the authorities, said he also claimed to have handed 260,000 classified US embassy messages to Wikileaks.

According to Mr Lamo, Manning said the documents showed "almost-criminal political back dealings" made by US embassies in the Middle East which, if true, would cause enormous embarrassment to key allies in a notoriously volatile area of the world. Mr Lamo claims Manning said that "Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public".

If those responsible for the site wanted any confirmation that the US military have them in their sights, they only need to look at their own website. In March this year Wikileaks published a leaked 32-page intelligence report which described the site as a "threat to the US Army". The report added: "The possibility that current employees or moles within [the Department of Defence] or elsewhere in the US government are providing sensitive or classified information to Wikileaks.org cannot be ruled out."

The site has previously shown that it is prepared to publish sensitive documents from US embassies. In January Wikileaks posted a classified cable from the US embassy in Reykjavik which described a meeting between embassy chief Sam Watson, the British Ambassador, Ian Whiting, and members of the Icelandic government.

In an interview with the BBC news website – the only one he has given since Manning was arrested – Mr Assange refused to confirm whether the intelligence analyst was the source of the Apache video. He also said he had no knowledge of the 260,000 further files that Manning claimed to have leaked.

But while Mr Assange may be shunning media interviews, he seems to be making no attempt to keep a low profile. Yesterday afternoon, the site's Twitter page announced that Mr Assange would be appearing in Las Vegas later in the day for a panel discussion about protecting anonymous sources – appearing alongside former CIA agent Valerie Plame and Leonard Downie Jr, a former editor of the Washington Post who supervised much of the paper's coverage of the Watergate scandal.

An earlier tweet suggested Wikileaks would not look kindly upon any US government interference. "Any signs of unacceptable behaviour by the Pentagon or its agents towards this press will be viewed dimly," the post said.

Website that breaks news

*Although Wikileaks is nominally hosted in Sweden, it fiercely protects both itself and the identity of its sources by routing all leaks through a series of servers around the world, which makes them virtually impossible to trace or shut down. "It's a very effective measure to mask who a whistleblower is and where they are connecting from," says Rik Fergusson, a cyber security expert at Trend Micro. "The only way to track it is in real time, which is almost impossible."

*Founded in 2006 by Australian-born former hacker Julian Assange, it has no paid staff and relies on volunteers and donations.

*In the past four years the site has released, among other items, the British National Party's membership list, detailed US military procedures for handling prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Sarah Palin's emails, the University of East Anglia's "Climategate emails" and 570,000 pager messages intercepted after the 11 September terrorist attacks.

*Wikileaks claims its next big scoop will be to publish video footage of an air strike in Afghanistan that killed scores of civilians.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.Net, ASP.Net - Kingston, Sur

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.N...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker