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We didn't leak names of US agents, insists WikiLeaks

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WikiLeaks has sprung a "leak" that has reportedly resulted in the availability of unredacted copies of US diplomatic cables, according to German media outlets. WikiLeaks has admitted some sort of unspecified infosec problem while denying suggestions that its cache of US diplomatic cables has been exposed.

The whistle-blowing website has published carefully edited extracts of the cables in conjunction with its media partners since last autumn, creating a huge diplomatic and political fuss in the process. These extracts were carefully edited to remove sensitive data such as the names of US spies and informers.

Encrypted copies of the raw file were placed on WikiLeaks systems. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reportedly shared the passcode to this file with trusted contacts.

German paper Der Freitag said last weekend that it had obtained access to the 1.73GB file (called cables.csv) and the passcode needed to decrypt it. Data contained in the file includes the names of US agents in Israel, Jordan and Iran.

Der Spiegel confirmed the leak and implied that OpenLeaks, a rival whistle-blowing website founded by disaffected WikiLeaks members last year, might have at least pointed Der Freitag towards the leaked file and password in a bid to highlight alleged security shortcomings at WikiLeaks. This remains unconfirmed.

It is not the first time WikiLeaks has lost control of the cables database, as Wired notes. Last year a WikiLeaks member gave access to the database to a freelance reporter, Heather Brooke, without the permission of Assange.

Meanwhile WikiLeaks has downplayed the significance of the leak, arguing that even talk of a leak is overstating the situation. It still has not really explained its alternative version of events in a series of updates to its Twitter account on Monday.

"WikiLeaks 'insurance' files have not been decrypted. All press are currently misreporting. There is an issue, but not that issue," it said.

"There has been no 'leak at WikiLeaks'. The issue relates to a mainstream media partner and a malicious individual," it added.

What's not in dispute is that after months of inactivity WikiLeaks began publishing hundreds of the remaining US diplomatic cables last week. In between publishing extracts of these authorised releases, the whistle-blowing website is hurling insults at its enemies in the mainstream media, most notably its former partner the New York Times, which it describes as "drooling, senile, and evil" over "totally false" suggestions that any WikiLeaks sources have been exposed or will be exposed. ®

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