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Site allegedly exposes British secret agents

U.S. man lists 276 alleged MI6 agents on his Web site. The British government is not pleased.

The U.K. Foreign Office is slamming an anti-secrecy activist who listed online alleged spies and secret agents.

New York-based activist John Young named 276 alleged MI6 agents--including former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown--on his Cryptome Web site over the weekend. The list claims Ashdown was an MI6 agent in Geneva in the 1970s.

John Young
Credit: Declan McCullagh
John Young
Cryptome's Webmaster

It is not the first time such information has been published on the Internet, and Foreign Office policy is to neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of such lists. But a Foreign Office representative slammed its publication for potentially putting lives in danger.

"It puts members of the intelligence community in the field at risk and also people who are just ordinary Foreign Office workers who may be named on the list," he told Silicon.com.

The representative acknowledged that the nature of the Internet would make it difficult to force the material to be taken down and said any such action would be a matter for the U.S. authorities.

Young publishes alleged top-secret documents on his Web site to reveal intelligence information that he believes is in the public interest.

"No court order has ever been served; any order served will be published here--or elsewhere if gagged by order," a note on his site says.

Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.