Guardian journalist accused of recklessly disclosing password

 

An uncensored version of the entire US State Department's cable database obtained by WikiLeaks last year has been circulating on the internet, prompting fears that lives have been put at risk.

Access to an unencrypted 1.73-gigabyte file containing more than 251,000 uncensored diplomatic cables has been made possible thanks to the distribution of a password that unlocks a secret cache.

The emergence of an accessible and fully unredacted database has raised fears that the lives of informants in countries that are hostile to the US may now be put at risk. It also highlights the inherent difficulties of protecting data in a digital age where copies can be made with ease.

Yesterday an acrimonious spat broke out between WikiLeaks and The Guardian newspaper as both organisations blamed each other for the data breach. The two groups once worked closely together in co-ordinating the release of WikiLeaks exposés, but they fell out publicly late last year.

WikiLeaks has blamed David Leigh, The Guardian's investigations editor, for publishing a password given to him by the group last year in a book he wrote with his fellow journalist Luke Harding about his time working with the whistle-blowing website.

The newspaper hit back by blaming WikiLeaks for using sloppy security protocols, adding that the unencrypted version of the cables now on the web was not the one accessed by the paper last year.

But in a 1,600-word statement WikiLeaks accused Leigh of "recklessly, and... knowingly" disclosing the decryption password in his book, which was published in February. The organisation added: "Knowledge of The Guardian disclosure has spread privately over several months but reached critical mass last week."

WikiLeaks accused The Guardian of undoing months of work that its team had done with partner media organisations and human rights groups in redacting sensitive files. A source close to the group told The Independent that only three people had been given access to the encryption password: Julian Assange, Leigh and one other WikiLeaks staffer.

But yesterday The Guardian denied those claims, stating that it had gone to great lengths to persuade WikiLeaks to take the protection of informants and confidential sources more seriously. Blaming WikiLeaks for using the same password to access different databases, the newspaper claimed that the file to which it was given access in July 2010 would only be on a secure server for a few hours and then taken off. "It appears that two versions of this file were subsequently posted to a peer-to-peer file-sharing network using the same password," the newspaper said.

Yesterday, Mr Assange said he was unable to comment further because of "ongoing legal issues". But he denied that the password he gave to the newspaper was temporary.

"Encryption is no more temporary than the translation of a book into another language," he said. "It's no more temporary than cutting off an arm."

Internet security experts have expressed dismay that WikiLeaks would either give out a password to an uncensored database or use the same password for two different caches.

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Are you a Secondary School teacher looking for work in Suffolk?

£105 - £140 per day + Competitive pay: Randstad Education Cambridge: Teaching ...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Teacher

£130 - £131 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Ks1 teacher required for m...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?