The disclosure of a huge cache of diplomatic cables has alarmed human rights groups, which fear that WikiLeaks or news outlets could publish the names of local activists who have spoken with US diplomats in countries with repressive governments.
While there are so far no known cases in which activists have been publicly identified in the cables, two leading groups, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First, have written to the founder of WikiLeaks to urge him to scrub any references from the documents that might allow other countries to identify the activists.
The State Department has identified what one senior official described as a significant number of activists, journalists whom it believes will be endangered if named. The official said a number of "very sensitive sources" could be arrested or targeted with violence if their names are published.
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said that he urged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in writing to "redact from the documents the names of any US-supported human rights defenders who might be placed in jeopardy."
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