WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange blasted the Guardian, on Tuesday, saying the British paper’s “negligence” in publishing an encryption key to uncensored files forced his organisation’s hand in publishing the secret US diplomatic memos.
It was Assange’s first public comments since WikiLeaks disclosed its entire archive of the US state department cables. The US has fiercely criticised the move, saying it could endanger the lives of sources named in the cables, including opposition figures.
Assange specifically blamed the Guardian, pointing out that a sensitive password used to decrypt the files was published in a book by David Leigh, one of the paper’s investigative reporters and a collaborator-turned-critic of Assange.
“We had a case where every intelligence agency has the material and the people who are mentioned do not have the material...” he said by video link from a mansion about two hours’ drive from London, where he is under virtual house arrest, pending extradition proceedings to Sweden on unrelated sexual assault allegations.
He also blamed WikiLeaks defector Daniel Domscheit-Berg, though not by name, alleging he told media where to find the encrypted files and how to use the password. “So you have a race between the bad guys and the good guys and it was necessary for us to stand on the side of the good guys,” he said.
With the information available to some people, Assange said he decided to make it available to everyone.
“It was necessary to give the information in an authenticated way to the general public, to journalists and to those who might be mentioned in the materials to show that they were mentioned and what might have been said about them.”
The Guardian, Leigh and others have already rejected the claim that they were responsible for the leak.