Hazel Press

Julian Assange

Editor in Chief, WikiLeaks

 

Ambassador Louis B. Susman

US Embassy

24 Grosvenor Square

London, W1A 1AE

United Kingdom

 

26 November 2010

 

Dear Ambassador Susman, I refer to recent public statements by United States Government officials expressing concern about the possible publication by WikiLeaks and other media organisations of information allegedly derived from United States Government records. I understand that the United States Government has recently devoted substantial resources to examination of these records over many months.

 

Subject to the general objective of ensuring maximum disclosure of information in the public interest, WikiLeaks would be grateful for the United States Government to privately nominate any specific instances (record numbers or names) where it considers the publication of information would put individual persons at significant risk of harm that has not already been addressed.

 

WikiLeaks will respect the confidentiality of advice provided by the United States Government and is prepared to consider any such submissions made without delay.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Julian Assange

 

 

 

The Legal Adviser

United States Department of State 

 

Washington, D.C. 20520

 

November 27, 2010

 

Via Electronic Mail

 

Ms. Jennifer Robinson

Attorney for Mr. Julian Assange

WikiLeaks 179 Great Portland Street London

WIW 5LS

 

Dear Ms. Robinson and Mr. Assange:

I am writing in response to your 26 November 2010 letter to U.S. Ambassador Louis B. Susman regarding your intention to again publish on your WikiLeaks site what you claim to be classified U.S. Government documents.

 

As you know, if any of the materials you intend to publish were provided by any government officials, or any intermediary without proper authorization, they were provided in violation of U.S. law and without regard for the grave consequences of this action. As long as WikiLeaks holds such material, the violation of the law is ongoing.

 

It is our understanding from conversations with representatives from The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Speigel, that WikiLeaks also has provided approximately 250,000 documents to each of them for publication, furthering the illegal dissemination of classified documents.

 

Publication of documents of this nature at a minimum would:

 

•  Place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals – from journalists to human rights activists and bloggers to soldiers to individuals providing information to further peace and security;

 

•  Place at risk on-going military operations, including operations to stop terrorists, traffickers in human beings and illicit arms, violent criminal enterprises and other actors that threaten global security; and,

 

•  Place at risk on-going cooperation between countries – partners, allies and common stakeholders – to confront common challenges from terrorism to pandemic diseases to nuclear proliferation that threaten global stability.

 

In your letter, you say you want – consistent with your goal of “maximum disclosure” – information regarding individuals who may be “at significant risk of harm” because of your actions.

 

Despite your stated desire to protect those lives, you have done the opposite and endangered the lives of countless individuals. You have undermined your stated objective by disseminating this material widely, without redaction, and without regard to the security and sanctity of the lives your actions endanger. We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials. If you are genuinely interested in seeking to stop the damage from your actions, you should: 1) ensure WikiLeaks ceases publishing any and all such materials; 2) ensure WikiLeaks returns any and all classified U.S. Government material in its possession; and 3) remove and destroy all records of this material from WikiLeaks’ databases.

 

Sincerely, s/

 

Harold Hongju Koh

Legal Adviser

 

 

 

Julian Assange

Editor in Chief, WikiLeaks

 

Ambassador Louis B. Susman

US Embassy

24 Grosvenor Square

London, W1A 1AE

United Kingdom

 

By email

 

28 November 2010

 

Dear Ambassador Susman,

 

As you know, WikiLeaks has absolutely no desire to put individual persons at significant risk of harm, nor do we wish to harm the national security of the United States.

 

WikiLeaks have spent significant time and resources redacting the material in our possession to achieve this outcome and sought to cross check our work and that of our traditional media partners with the US government.

 

I wrote to you explicitly with this in mind in order to offer the US the opportunity to privately nominate specific instances where this may occur. Instead of eliminating the risk you allege to lives and military operations you have rejected our offer for constructive dialogue and chosen a confrontational approach. The response provided by the US State Department overnight was no more than a lawyer's press release, which is confirmed by the fact you have released it to the press (a matter about which I make no complaint).

 

I understand that the United States government would prefer not to have the information that will be published in the public domain and is not in favour of openness. That said, either there is a risk or there is not. You have chosen to respond in a manner which leads me to conclude that the supposed risks are entirely fanciful and you are instead concerned to suppress evidence of human rights abuse and other criminal behaviour. We will now proceed to release the material subject to our checks and the checks of our media partners unless you get back to me, as you promised in the call with our lawyers last Friday.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Julian Assange

 

 

 

For Immediate Release

November 28, 2010

 

Statement by the Press Secretary

 

We anticipate the release of what are claimed to be several hundred thousand classified State department cables on Sunday night that detail private diplomatic discussions with foreign governments. By its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information. It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy decisions. Nevertheless, these cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only US foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world. To be clear -- such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government. These documents also may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies. President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal. By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals. We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.

 

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Letters between Wikileaks and the US Government