United States officials have been instructed to spy on top UN diplomats, The Guardian reported on Sunday citing whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks planned to publish 250,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables on Sunday but was blocked by hackers; however, it provided some of the confidential cables from U.S. embassies to a number of media: The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El Pais.
"The most controversial target was the UN leadership. That directive requested the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top officials and their staff and details of 'private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys,'" The Guardian wrote.
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley denied the espionage accusations, saying: "Let me assure you: our diplomats are just that, diplomats. They do not engage in intelligence activities."
The U.K. newspaper also revealed that the leaked materials include reports that "Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran."
According to The New York Times, the leak is "already sending shudders through the diplomatic establishment, and could conceivably strain relations with some countries, influencing international affairs in ways that are impossible to predict."
The U.S. newspaper also disclosed that American and South Korean officials have discussed "prospects for a unified Korea, should the North's economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode."
The leaked materials also reveal how a senior member of China's Politburo directed the intrusion into Google's computer systems, and touch upon the "extraordinarily close relationship" between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi, which is "causing intense US suspicion," according to The Guardian.
The White House said in a statement on Sunday: "We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information."
In July WikiLeaks published some 400,000 secret U.S. military files ("Iraq War Logs") on the conflict in Iraq. The documents suggest U.S. forces turned a blind eye to evidence of torture by the Iraqi authorities. Other files reveal that the number of civilian casualties was far greater than Washington admitted.
General George Casey, who was in charge of U.S. forces in Iraq from 2004 to 2007, rebutted the allegations of torture.
The main suspect in the leak of secret documents to WikiLeaks is jailed U.S. Private Bradley Manning, who had top-secret clearance as an intelligence analyst for the Army when he was stationed in Iraq.
The WikiLeaks website does not have a central office or any paid staff and its operations are run only by a small dedicated team and some 800 volunteers.
WikiLeaks' founder, Australian activist Julian Assange, has no home address but he often pops up in Sweden and Iceland, where Internet anonymity is protected by laws. He is being hunted by Pentagon investigators and is suspected of releasing confidential U.S. State Department documents.
A Swedish court recently issued a warrant for the arrest of Assange on suspicions of rape and sexual molestation.
MOSCOW, November 29 (RIA Novosti)