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Global backlash for WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks faced a worldwide backlash today over its release of secret US diplomatic cables, with some countries saying the revelations undermined diplomacy while others dismissed them as worthless.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Paris
UPDATED ON NOV 30, 2010 07:30 PM IST

WikiLeaks faced a worldwide backlash on Tuesday over its release of secret US diplomatic cables, with some countries saying the revelations undermined diplomacy while others dismissed them as worthless.

Japan echoed its key ally the United States in describing the leaks as "criminal" and said governments alone had the right to decide on the release of sensitive documents.

But WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, who defended the decision to reveal some 250,000 diplomatic cables, found support from leftist governments in South America.

Top US diplomat Hillary Clinton left for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Kazakhstan on Tuesday which has taken on the appearance of a diplomatic damage limitation exercise.

Clinton, who earlier accused WikiLeaks of an "attack" on the US and the world, vowed to reassure dozens of allies that Washington remains a credible partner despite the massive leak of secret diplomatic cables.

"Obviously this is a matter of great concern because we don't want anyone in any of the countries that could be affected by these alleged leaks to have any doubts about our intentions, and about our commitments," she told reporters.

Her Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara told a new conference: "It's just outrageous. It's a criminal act."

US officials insisted they would pursue WikiLeaks creator Assange, an Australian believed to be living in Europe, if he is found to have violated US law.

Assange described the mass of documentation in an interview with Forbes magazine as a "diplomatic history of the United States" covering "every major issue."

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, a long-time US critic, praised Assange while Ecuador even offered the 39-year-old sanctuary.

"We are going to invite him to come to Ecuador so he can freely present the information he possesses and all the documentation, not just over the Internet but in a variety of public forums," Kintto Lucas, Ecuador's deputy foreign minister, told the Internet site Ecuadorinmediato.

An international arrest warrant was issued in mid-November for Assange on suspicion of rape and sexual molestation of two women in Sweden.

Chavez praised Assange for his courage and said Clinton should resign over the revelations in the leaks.

"The empire stands naked... Mrs Clinton should resign," Chavez said in a speech, using his favourite description of the United States. "It's the least you can do: resign, along with those other delinquents working in the State Department."

China urged the US to get a grip on issues related to the leaking of the secret diplomatic cables.

"We hope the US side will properly handle relevant issues," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said when asked about the leaks.

The leaked cables contained allegations that China turned a blind eye to illicit North Korean missile parts exports and that the top Chinese leadership was behind cyberattacks on US web search giant Google and US targets.

"We don't want to see any disturbance to China-US relations," Hong added during a regular press briefing.

Another cable quoted Chinese officials calling the erratic North Korean regime -- China's ally -- a spoiled child and said Beijing would be willing to accept a reunited Korea.

Iran cast doubt on the authenticity of the documents and told its Arab neighbours not to fall into the whistleblower's "trap."

The leaked cables uncover a fixation on the Iranian nuclear threat as well as fear that regional conflict is inevitable.

"The fact that of all these documents Ms Clinton focuses on the ones involving Arab countries' concern about Iran's nuclear activities makes us suspicious about their authenticity," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a press conference when asked about the massive leak.

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