Assange brands Guardian 'negligent' over WikiLeaks password

Julian Assange has accused the Guardian of "negligence" after the newspaper published a password to the WikiLeaks website.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has accused the Guardian of "negligence". After the newspaper published a password to the WikiLeaks website, Assange claims he had no choice but to publish American diplomatic memos in their entirety. Unfortunately, WikiLeaks failed to protect the names of those who could be put at risk by publication.

The controversial Australian, AP reports, made the claim in a video call from his house in England, where he awaits sexual assault charges in Sweden, to the IFA technology show in Berlin.

In what can only be described as a monumental cock-up, WikiLeaks provided a password to the Guardian that was then published in a book on the subject by journalist David Leigh.

The Guardian claims WikiLeaks should have changed the password. Whichever side made the boo-boo --  and neither party has made itself look too clever -- news outlets and intelligence agencies used the password to access the secret files. Assange reckons there was nothing else he could do but publish the 250,000 diplomatic cables to level the playing field.

"We had a case where every intelligence agency has the material and the people who are mentioned do not have the material," Assange said. "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 has drawn criticism, however, for not obscuring the names of potentially vulnerable sources.

Microsoft, cyber-crime and sandals

Cables sent by US diplomats reporting on the political landscape of foreign countries have revealed some absurd and often shocking stories. One set of US cables alleged that Mayawati, chief minister of India's Uttar Pradesh state, sent a private jet to Mumbai to fetch her some sandals, a charge which has seen the Indian politician call for Assange to be thrown into "a mental asylum".

It's also been revealed that US software giant Microsoft trained law enforcement officers of the repressive regime in Tunisia. In return, Tunisian authorities agreed to buy 12,000 licences for MS software instead of just pirating it. Sure, let's all try using that one the next time someone accuses us of piracy.

US diplomats warned that the training to fight cyber-crime could be extended to oppress citizens using the Internet to speak out against or actively oppose government repression.

Microsoft is alleged to have acted in several countries to oppose the adoption of open-source software by civic authorities, including Tunisia, Thailand and Venezuela. The Venezuelan state oil company countered with accusations that software from American companies included a secret 'back door' that could allow US authorities to sabotage systems -- a weapon the company alleges was used against Iraq.

Now if you'll excuse us, we're off to change all our passwords.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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