The uncensored versions of the U.S. diplomatic cables that Wikileaks released last year have been released online, leaving diplomats and their sources open for life-threatening retaliation.
According to German Newspaper Der Spiegel, the original, unedited file of the documents has been inadvertently exposed online because of a lapse in communication between Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his former co-collaborator Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
Here’s how it happened according to Der Spiegel:
In the summer of 2010, Assange stored the US diplomatic cables on a secure server. At this time he also gave the password of that secure server to an external contact so that the contact could access the files. When Domscheit-Berg left Wikileaks in Sept. 2010, he took the contents of that server, including the original US diplomatic cables, and several unrelated files with him, and Assange no longer had access to this information. Domscheit-Berg returned a big collection of the materials he had taken with him, including the encrypted cables. The cables were apparently hidden in a subdirectory. Afterwards, the Wikileaks team made public the content on that server, releasing it on the Internet. The external contact made public the password to those contents, too–meaning the password could be used to undo the encryption. Both the Wikileaks team and the third-party contact were unaware that the server contained the unredacted diplomatic cables, according to Der Spiegel.
When the diplomatic cables were originally released, many names had been redacted to protect people who were in hostile situations. In several cases entire files were withheld. Now that the cables have been released in their entirety those confidential sources are in jeopardy.