The Guardian was closely involved in brokering the release of a third major cache of US intelligence documents by the website Wikileaks today.
According to David Leigh, writing in the paper today, the 250,000 leaked US embassy cables were handed over to a Guardian reporter earlier this year on a tiny memory stick. The information ran to 1.6 gigabytes of text files.
The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El Pais also had advance sight of the documents. They all published the results of their investigations today as Wikileaks also made the data freely available online.
The Guardian has revealed that freelance investigative journalist Heather Brooke has been assisting it with the investigation, after she ‘obtained a copy of the database through her own contacts”.
Guardian journalist Nick Davies brokered the first Wikileaks deal in June this year when he met with the group’s founder Julian Assange in Brussels. This led to the advance release of the Afghan War Logs documents to the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times ahead of their general release on 27 July.
Those 90,000 documents detailed US military enegagement in Afghanistan and were followed last month by the release of almost 400,000 documents related to events in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.
In April this year, Wikileaks released a video called ‘Collateral Murder’which was shot from the vantage point of two US helicopter gunships as they opened fire on suspected Iraqi fighters in 2007. Numerous civilians died in the attack including Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh.
The latest documents include revelations about how Saudi Arabia has urged the US to bomb Iran and how the US has urged its officials to apparently spy on their UN colleagues.
The files are said to range from unclassified to ‘secret’and according to the Guardian some three million US citizens are authorised to view such documents.
According to The Guardian: ‘Co-operation with Wikileaks has been restricted to agreeing the dates on which we could cover specific regions.”
The Guardian said that it has deleted some names from documents to protect individuals and that it has shared these redactions with Wikileaks. It said that some of the cables will not be released because of the ‘special burden’that UK libel laws place on British publishers.