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Wikileaks denies receiving classified State Dept. cables

Wikileaks editor Julian Assange tells the TED Global conference that if he had received sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables, he would have not hesitated to publish them.

A Wikileaks representative has denied receiving more than 150,000 classified U.S. State Department cables.

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange said at the TED Global conference in Oxford, England, last week that if the organization had received the cables, "we would have released them."

The question of diplomatic cables arose after an Army intelligence specialist, Bradley Manning, was linked to Wikileaks. Manning may face a court-martial; one document listing charges against Manning says he transmitted "more than 50 classified U.S. State Department cables" to an unnamed person not authorized to receive them, in violation of federal law.

Another paragraph in the list of charges against Manning is more interesting. It alleges that he obtained "more than 150,000 diplomatic cables" from State Department computers. But it doesn't actually accuse him of transmitting them.

In January, Wikileaks published a classified cable from the U.S. embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland. It appears to describe conversations with Reykjavik officials about the country's economic crisis and what the United States had been asked to do.

The U.S. Army's list of charges against Manning lists the "Reykjavik 13" cable by name, saying he transmitted it "to a person not entitled to receive it, with reason to believe that such information could be used to the injury of the United States or the advantage of any foreign nation."

On Tuesday, CNET published a lengthy interview with Cryptome.org editor John Young, who participated in the creation of Wikileaks over three years ago. Young has subsequently become a critic of the organization, saying "I certainly would not trust them with information if it had any value, or if it put me at risk or anyone that I cared about at risk."

Assange said he would have published the diplomatic correspondence without hesitation "because these sort of things reveal what the true state of, say, Arab governments are like--the true human rights abuses in those governments. If you look at declassified cables, that's the sort of material that's there."